You’re eating noodles with fermented fish-pork sauce and a shaved banana blossom salad when all of a sudden the background music stops and a familiar tune starts blasting from the speakers: DUN DUN DUN dun dun DUN dun dun DUN.
Wait, is that “Imperial March” from Star Wars in a Laotian restaurant? Everyone cranes their necks to look around, and then Darth Vader appears… in the form of a black helmet punch bowl.
The spectacle accompanies every order of the $60 “Romulo in Space” four-person tiki punch at Hanumanh, the new Shaw spot from Thip Khao and Padaek owners Seng Luangrath and Bobby Pradachith.
The drink is the brainchild of bar director Al Thompson, an alum of Barmini and a Star Wars fan (Episode 1 is his favorite movie). Thompson says he’s been trying to create more cocktails that come with a sensory experience. He’s also wanted to offer a space-themed cocktail for a long time.
“I kept saying how can I add sound to this cocktail? And then it occurred to me: ‘Imperial March,'” Thompson says. The bartender found Darth Vader and Storm Trooper cookie jars on Amazon and repurposed them as punch bowls. So far, the bar is only selling about three a week.
The Dark Side, though, isn’t the only force on the menu. Another one of Thompson’s drinks dubbed “Garden of the Gods” lists “luminescence” as an ingredient alongside gin, Thai tea-infused vermouth, and yellow chartreuse. It comes with a light-up coaster that causes the concoction to glow.
Thompson is continuing to experiment with other cocktails that will play with your senses, including one with numbing properties and another that uses herbs to make the libation less sweet as you sip.
“It’s all about the experience,” he says. “We all can cook. We all can go home and make a drink, but what are you going to take away from that day you went to Hanumanh?”