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TRAVEL WATCH: MARCH 13, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 10


A rarely used consonant is suddenly one of most popular letters of the Roman alphabet in Bangkok: Q. Or more precisely, Q Bar. Since opening last December, the hip, New York-style lounge has become a hit among locals and visitors alike. Saigon regulars will recognize the name from its defunct predecessor in Vietnam, which was a favorite with Robert De Niro and other celebrities. What makes Q Bar different? After all, Bangkok isn't exactly lacking in drinking establishments: the city offers a versatile assortment of English and Irish pubs, Latin American salsa clubs and German brauhauses. Not to mention all the gay and girlie bars and upmarket hotel haunts.

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A rarely used consonant is suddenly one of most popular letters of the Roman alphabet in Bangkok: Q

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"I saw a hole in the market," says co-owner David Jacobson, creator of the Q Bar in Saigon. "Bangkok didn't have a genuine 'bar' bar." By that he means a dark, atmospheric, two-story place where stark structural concrete and steel merge seamlessly with vinyl-padded walls and furniture. A postmodern-industrial-meets-Vegas-circa-1950 kind of place with subtle gel-filtered lighting, like the aquarium blue of the vodka freezer and glowing green behind acrylic panels on a ground-floor wall.

Drinkwise, Q Bar pours big measures and offers a daunting selection of spirits: 25 kinds of vodka, eight tequilas and seven rums, along with a bevy of rare single malt whiskeys and exotic cocktails. Equally unusual for Bangkok is the eclectic music--hip hop, trip hop, drum and bass, acid jazz, house--all orchestrated at loud (but still conversational) volumes by a resident DJ. Jacobson has created the kind of bar where he himself likes to hang out. New customers and old friends will feel right at home. Q Bar is at 34 Sukhumvit Soi 11.

By Jennifer Gampell

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