Food & Drink

Review: At Mayuree Thai Tavern, Come for the Thai Food—Stay for the Cocktails

People who order takeout are in for delicious deliveries, but they're missing out on one of the best aspects of the Canton staple: its cocktail program.
The Mai Thai cocktail with lime and fresh mint. —Photography by Matt Roth

On weekend nights, a steady stream of delivery cars with their hazards blinking lines Fleet Street in front of Mayuree Thai Tavern, waiting to whisk containers of pad see yew and braised beef noodle soup to their couch-bound customers.

While those homebodies are in for delicious deliveries—the food at Mayuree is generally terrific—they’re missing out on one of the best aspects of this Canton staple: its cocktail program. Created by Andy Thammasathiti, whose mother, Penny, owns the place and oversees the kitchen, Mayuree’s drinks are tropical twists on classic recipes.

One of the best is a Mai Tai that Thammasathiti makes using three kinds of rum. Amaretto provides an almond flavor, and lime and Angostura bitters round out the ingredients. Thammasathiti uses a mallet to crush the ice, then garnishes the drink with a dehydrated lime and fresh mint. The result is a concoction with a rainbow of colors and a smooth, not-too-sweet taste.

“It’s a little lighter than the traditional Mai Tai, but you still get the same flavor, and it has a nice body,” he says.

Mayuree’s drinks tend to achieve a copacetic balance. Thammasathiti uses 100-proof Old Forester bourbon in his Old-Fashioneds, and the Lychee Collins is made with a pleasing combination of Blue Coat gin, Giffard Lichi, elderflower, citrus, and Singha soda. It’s the most popular cocktail on the menu.

That’s not to say that Thammasathiti’s creativity is restricted by what’s on the menu. When we stopped in earlier this year and asked for something “refreshing,” he whipped up an off-the-menu libation he calls a Sex Machine (the name was a nod to James Brown). Its base was bourbon and Jamaican rum, and combined with peach li- queur, Angostura bitters, and some orange and lemon, it hit the mark.

In February, Thammasathiti won the people’s choice award at a cocktail-making contest held at fellow Canton restaurant NiHao. His creation was his take on a mule, only using baijiu, mezcal, ginger syrup, and lime. He’s clearly a student of cocktails, and his passion for them is apparent when you’re chatting with him at Mayuree’s long wooden bar. (He is there less often now that the family has opened another Thai restaurant in D.C.) But fear not, if Thammasathiti isn’t behind the bar, a well-trained member of the staff will expertly fill in.

Happy hour is a good time to stop by: There are selected $5 appetizers, $5 draft beers, and $4 beer bottles. On Tuesdays, mules are $8 and rums and tequilas are 20-percent off. On Wednesdays, Old-Fashioneds and whiskeys get the discount treatment.

Along with staples like pad Thai and drunken noodles, Mayuree serves sophisticated dishes, including the excellent catfish pad cha. The curry sauce that accompanies it is seriously spicy and will make you yearn for something thirst-quenching to drink.

If you’re sitting at Mayuree Thai Tavern—and not at home—a bartender will whip up just the right cocktail for you.