The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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Chanchai Rodbamrung’s Charlie Smith

Chanchai Rodbamrung represented Thailand at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Lifted from London and taken to Thailand, Smith transports Fergus Henderson’s ‘nose to tail’ concept from the beginning of one continent to the end of another. The result is like St John tempered with some of the delicacy of Thai cuisine, dishes are a diverse symphony in terms of flavour, rich in organic meat and responsibly sourced fish without the oft-accompanying heaviness. Smith is housed in a 40-year-old warehouse, refurbished with just enough artisanal grit retained around the edges to have the feel of a rather boutique butchers. On the emergent, trendy Sukhumvit soi 49, it follows a sister venue in Ruamrudee, Hyde & Seek.

The Bartender

Chanchai Rodbamrung, 25, credits his boss at Smith, mixologist Chanond Purananda as his mentor. The winner of World Class in Thailand has been head bartender at Smith for over a year, having worked previously at Lava Club on Khao San Road. At Smith the drinks are typically matched to certain plates, to do this Chanchai thinks that a creative imagination and a tight knowledge of what works flavour-wise are essential. His belief echoes the wider philosophy of Smith, which takes its name from an expert craftsman of the highest professional regard.

The Drink

The Charlie Smith was created with the cheese plate in mind, with a good balance of sweet and sharp flavours. It is anchored by Chanchai’s favourite vodka, crisp Ketel One with its hints of citrus and honey, which has been infused with dry figs then complemented with locally sourced honey and thyme. The Thai honey used is less sweet, but highly aromatic. The drink is garnished with a fig and a black grape, a nod to two perennial props of any self-respecting cheeseboard. Most of the cocktails take ‘Smith’ as a surname, and ‘Charlie’ here is from boss Chanond.

The Technique

Ketel One (infused with dry figs) • 50ml
Peach liqueur • 10ml
Honey • 8ml
Fresh lemon juice • 8ml
Fresh thyme • 2 sprigs
A dry fig wrapped in cheese & black grape for garnish
Contains 18 grams of alcohol per serve

Mix the ingredients well in a shaker. Strain into a cold Martini glass. Garnish with the fig and grape skewer.

If you tire of Pad Thais and green curries in Bangkok, then Smith is a very worthy alternative. With the Charlie Smith being conceived with a cheese plate in mind, it is best enjoyed as such, however with or without the cheese it is the perfect way to round off a hearty meal.

Images by Mr Akkapat Inthuprapa & Mr Athipatai Sooksai

Chanchai‘s Insider’s Guide to Bangkok

Place to stay
Grand Hyatt Erawan

Place to eat
Hyde & Seek restaurant

Place to lounge
Maggie Choo’s Lounge

Place to dance
Levels club

Place to shop
Chatuchack weekend market

Place to visit
Museum of Siam

Place to see
Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palaces