Nordic Niche

Words by Mika Apichatsakol

“The Cocktail Issue”, April 2023

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The Villa Frantzén Cocktail Bar is the Yenakart restaurant’s modern Nordic cocktail bar with Asian influences. To understand what Nordic cocktails are exactly, you have to know a bit about Nordic food culture and the importance it places on seasonality, landscape, and nature. The bar’s Swedish beverage manager Gabriel Valdes explains that the “Nordic way” is to show respect to its ingredients, handling them with such care to make the most out of them. For this reason, cooking techniques such as smoking and pickling, used to bring out complex flavours of ingredients, are the standards of Nordic cuisine and of his bar. 

To give Bangkokians the true Nordic experience, Villa Frantzén imports many ingredients. Gabriel notes the novelty of the kitchen and bar’s inventory: “You won’t find many many people [in Bangkok] who work with ingredients like sea buckthorn, cloudberries, and pickled brines.” The precious ingredients are done justice through detailed recipes for their preparation. “It is important to control them down to the very gram or very millilitre,” says Gabriel. “In a premix, everything is weighed exactly, so that the drink will taste the same every single time, even when I’m not the one making it.”


Gabriel uses exactly three words to describe the cocktail menu at Villa Frantzén: clean, plain, naked—referring to the clarity and seeming simplicity of the drinks. You won’t find frills here, but that isn’t to say that the cocktails are boring either. In fact, far from it. Take one of the bar’s signatures, “Milk, Tea & Coco”. Gabriel effectively sums this one up as “Thailand meets Sweden in a drink”, by way of a light Chalong Bay rum mingling with a Swedish akvavit, in the company of lavender coco and a citrusy milk. 

In addition, no two drinks at Villa Frantzén are alike. If one of them has foam, the other will have to have a milk wash*, for instance. Directions are another unique facet of the Villa Frantzén drinking experience. For example, a liquorice and violet drink here advises tasting the top-layer violet foam first, before washing the liquid down to introduce the liquorice to the floral flavour already on your palate


Lastly, if you’re curious as to what the alchemist’s proudest creation for Villa Franztén thus far has been, it’s the Chlorophyll Highball. “The idea was to create cocktail soda, something very refreshing where you will be surprised in many ways,” says Gabriel. The gin- and mezcal-based drink’s strange acidity comes from none other than vinegar, while the freshness comes from its carbonation. The cocktail’s namesake chlorophyll component is featured in the oil on the top of the drink, again, intended to be tasted first before the rest. Perhaps peculiar on paper, this wild card order has swiftly become a hit among customers. 

*Milk wash is when milk is added to a spirit mix that contains citric acid, causing the milk to separate and curdle; the curds are then strained to produce a clear liquid that contains the flavour and whey from the milk. 


The Midas Touch.

In our new issue, we’re taking a deep dive into the tantalising world of cocktails, with none other than the legendary Philip Bischoff gracing our cover.
Discover the secrets behind his incredible ‘Midas touch’ and learn how to create delicious concoctions like a pro. But that’s not all – we’ve rounded up a diverse group of Bangkok’s finest bartenders to share their mixology wisdom and insider tips.

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