Bangkok Mule, Lychee Martini and Strawberry Sour from Dok Mali. Photos by Angie Bryan

I love a well-thought-out cocktail program that pairs beautifully with an establishment’s food menu. Dok Mali (Thai for “jasmine flower”), a Thai bar and restaurant that opened on Portland’s India Street in November, understood the assignment.

Most of its 11 specialty cocktails, which range from $12 to $15, feature a Thai twist. There’s a lemongrass mojito, a lemongrass margarita (containing a lemongrass and Thai chili pepper syrup), an alcoholic version of bubble tea (a first for me!), a Long Island iced tea using Thai iced tea (along with Cognac, brown sugar bourbon and dark rum), and more. It was hard to narrow down which ones my drinking companions and I wanted to try the most. Over the course of the evening, we tasted a total of five.

We started out with the Bangkok Mule, the Strawberry Sour and the Lychee Martini. The lychee martini (vodka, lychee syrup and orange liqueur) was our least favorite – it just didn’t have the smooth balance that I look for in a cocktail. The orange liqueur dominated, and the lychee syrup made the drink overly sweet – I would have used a lychee liqueur like Soho instead of a lychee syrup.

The bar at Dok Mali, which opened in November in the space formerly occupied by Lois’ Natural Marketplace.

The Bangkok Mule (vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and Thai basil syrup), a refreshing take on a Moscow Mule, paired perfectly with the Asian flavors in our meal.

The Strawberry Sour (gin, strawberries, elderflower liqueur, egg white, lime juice and agave syrup) was the winner of the evening, a sentiment shared by at least one patron outside our party, who had brought a friend specifically to introduce her to that drink. My friend who ordered it talked about how good it was all the way to the car as we were leaving, and I don’t blame her. Plus, it was pretty and pink.

Squid Games and the Midnight Margarita make for interesting after-dinner drinks at Dok Mali.

After a fabulous dinner involving a flight of seven different kinds of dumplings (I am not making this up!), we ordered the Squid Games and the Midnight Margarita.


The Midnight Margarita is so named because of its dark black color, the result of the squid ink, leading me to wonder why it’s not called the Squidnight Margarita. Missed opportunity. Also containing tequila, blood orange liqueur, honeycomb syrup and a not overpowering amount of mezcal, it was fun and original but paled (despite its color) in comparison to the deliciousness of the Squid Games, a dessert cocktail containing Soju, honeycomb syrup, espresso and double cream. My drinking companion highly recommends pairing that with Dok Mali’s fried ice cream.

If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, there are also eight wines by the glass, ranging from $9 to $14, rotating local draft beers for $9, and a cider for $6.50, as well as a nonalcoholic beer for $5.50 and multiple flavors of bubble tea for $6.50.

A counter looking out onto India Street at new Thai restaurant Dok Mali.

My friends and I sat at the bar on comfortable wooden barstools with backs, wide seats and footrests. There are no purse hooks underneath the bar, but there are a few outlets. Other seating options include a banquette along the wall and some excellent people-watching spots at a window bar counter overlooking India Street. Service was fast and friendly.

Owned by chef Nonglack Thanephonesy, who grew up in Portland, Dok Mali is designed around Thai street food and dim sum reminiscent of the bustling night markets in Thailand. She knocked it out of the park, and I can’t wait to go back and try several of the items I didn’t get to this time around.

Retired diplomat Angie Bryan writes about Maine’s cocktail bars while making as many puns as her editor allows.

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