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Bangkok bar fights lockdowns with cocktail of creativity

Vinegar on the menu as entrepreneur battles alcohol sales restrictions

Tax Bar, which opened in Bangkok in November, mocks Thailand's draconian alcohol regulations by incorporating house-made drinking vinegars in its signature drinks. Vinegar is not subject to the taxes levied on alcohol. (Photo by Chris Schalkx)

BANGKOK -- "Nothing is certain but death and tax," reads the sign above a dimly lit staircase in a small alley on the edge of Bangkok's Chinatown. Other certainties of life include birth, sunrise, and, if you are a bar owner in Thailand, a constant battle with the government's ever-tightening alcohol laws.

With tourism at a standstill and opening hours and lockdowns dictated by officials, the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for Thailand's hospitality industry. The city's many bars, in particular, have had a lot to endure. They saw their home deliveries -- one of the few ways to generate income during lockdown -- come to a halt when the government introduced a blanket ban on alcohol sales in April, and were the last industry branch allowed to reopen, after almost three months of enforced closures, in July.

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