It took a little bit of finding but that only added to the anticipation. Hidden to the side of the Novotel Fenix in Silom a discreet doorway leads to a small curtained landing.
A moment of confusion as to where to turn soon disappears as an internal sirocco gently wafts the curtains and one can make out a heavily balustrade stairway that leads to a respectable looking café.
Should one descend to discover the secrets of Maggie Choo? Well I have come this far so why not step into the sanctum sanctorum; the inner chamber where the real action is. Guarded by pierced screen doors the secret of Maggie Choo is revealed. This is no ordinary bar; it is a fanciful recreation of an early 20th century Shanghai speakeasy.
It takes a while for my eyes to adjust to the darkened interior eventually red lights illuminate the way. The eye is drawn to the bare brick walls, festooned with copious large busts of Her Majesty Victoria, Dei Gracia Brit Regina, Fid Def, Ind Imp.
However, between each bust is what looks like an ironclad’s bulkhead door that opens on to a very comfortable private room suitable for intimate tête-à-têtes. A jazz combo plays while a smooth crooner’s velvety voice washes the day’s cares away down the Swanee.
Taking a comfortable Chesterfield wingback chair and settling in with a gin and tonic and a cocktail for your companion your gaze wanders over to ladies nonchalantly swaying on strategically placed swings. Dressed in ‘20s style sumptuous Chinese body-hugging dresses they lazily fan themselves while glancing at the varied clientele. Victoria really would not be amused.
But this is a fun themed bar that conveys the bygone days of good time Shanghai, when Western businessmen and Chinese good-timers mixed, wheelers and dealers all, mingled in an atmosphere of high finance and intrigue. Who knows where their next move might have been; to a drug den to finish the night perhaps.
Maggie Choo’s is a bar with a difference, a bar that will steep you in the fable of long lost Shanghai, satiate your desire for a pink gin, or excellent cocktail, and may even stimulate your inner J G Ballard.
Maggie Choo is a different drinking experience that will linger in the memory to call you back to your own inn of the sixth happiness.
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