Babett was the hottest new bar in town when it opened last year. A few months later, I was tasked with finding out whether it had stood the test of time and become one of Yangon’s best watering holes. Possibly, was the conclusion I came to. The location is good, on the edge of downtown and close to Yaw Min Gyi, the setting is also nice, with an outside area set back a little from the road, and the menu covers a fair range cocktails, wines, beers, tapas, and more substantial dishes.
Babett offers five signature cocktails and nine standard cocktails in a stylish setting—think lots of leather and reds and blacks. The open bar is the focal point with plenty of seats for you to watch the bar tenders do their things. I also liked seeing the kitchen behind glass and the way they used trilbies to show tables are reserved.
Also, Babett’s happy hour only applies to beer. Not a very happy hour if you don’t like beer, though they do offer different food and drink deals depending on the day of the week. I tried, along with some friends, four of Babett’s five signature cocktails and a couple of tapas dishes.
Getting the staff’s attention was slightly tricky on this occasion. At 7,500 kyats for a signature cocktail, Babett has priced itself below the swankier cocktail bars and hotels in the city. The quality, in my opinion, is also lower.
Secret Garden—with infused vodka, cucumber, and lime juice—was refreshing but tasted a little like a green juice with a vodka shot added rather than a cocktail in its own right. It needed a deeper flavor to compliment the watery cucumber and tangy lime. The Spicy G cocktail with infused tequila, passion fruit, and ginger did have a nice warm chili kick but the predominant flavor was the rather sickly passion fruit, probably from a syrup rather than fresh. I enjoyed the Mandalay Calling, which had warm ginger and cinnamon notes that went well with the rum and whisked egg white.
The tapas I tried were good quality and reasonably priced at 3,000 kyats for a plate. The mortadella ham was served with bread topped with crushed tomato and a little garlic, a light and refreshing snack with strong Mediterranean flavors. The sweet potato fries were perhaps a little soggy but the spiced yoghurt dressing cut through the grease to make a pleasant dish.
I’m glad Babett has survived nearly six months on the Yangon bar scene. It is a very good option for a post- or pre- meal drink if you’re in the area. Would I go back for the cocktails themselves though? No, but it is still among Yangon’s top bars.
Photos by Edmond Sailland.