To travel to Thailand from Columbia would take 28 hours, two layovers and cost at least 3,300 Thai baht (about a thousand bucks).
Then there’s the local alternative: Basil Thai Cuisine. Serving traditional Thai food for four years now, the Cross Hill Market restaurant off Fort Jackson Boulevard caters to taste buds foreign and domestic.
Sue Eang, the restaurant’s general manager, is the niece of founders Henry and Chai, brothers who moved to the United States from Cambodia in the 1970s. Twelve years ago, they opened their first Basil restaurant in Charleston. Now they have six locations throughout the Carolinas.
Each location has a slightly different drink menu, Eang said, but you can always order the signature cocktail, the pineapple mojito. Created around 2008, the lemongrass simple syrup and rum drink was a collaboration between the chef and bartender at the time. Pineapple and rum are infused for two weeks before the mixture is bottled and ready to use.
“The pineapple mojito is just award-winning,” said Eang. And she means it. In a drink contest, the fruity concoction sold out in 45 minutes.
Two other popular cocktails are the basil lime martini and the angry mule.
Eang explained that the martini is a nod not only to the restaurant’s name, but also to basil as a main ingredient in Thai food. The drink mirrors the sweet licorice flavor basil can give off.
And given that Thai food has elements of sweet and spicy, along with a bit of sour, the angry mule is the restaurant’s rendition of your standard mule.
“We call this an angry mule because it’s made with tequila as well as jalapenos. It’s sweet and spicy,” Eang said.
Another popular drink is the sake peach blossom, which is Eang’s own recipe.
“I wanted to bring a sparkling sake to our drink menu, but instead, I said, ‘Let’s make a cocktail out of it.’ ”
In addition to the cocktail selection, the restaurant has a well-vetted wine and beer menu, which includes River Rat’s Hazelnut Brown Ale and its amber ale, Broad River Red Ale.
“When you think of Thai food, I want you to pair that with another culture,” Eang said. “Our apple martini (the “Apple Saki-tini”) will have Fuji apple sake in it. We have a lychee martini that we do with sake. I added selections to expand price points and pallets.”