Sabai Sabai: A Thai Welcome Drink

Sabai Sabai: A Thai Welcome Drink

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
159 Calories
0g Fat
17g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 159
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 13mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 23mg 2%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 54mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Sabai Sabai is also known as the "Thai welcome drink" and it features Mekhong, a unique liquor from Thailand. It is often referred to as the "official" drink of Thailand and it's quite fascinating. If you're seeking a refreshing and easy cocktail to mix up, look no further. 

You can think of this drink as a "Mekhong Collins" because it is very similar to the John Collins. It can be served short on the rocks or up in a cocktail glass, though you could also serve it tall like any other collins drink. Any way you choose to serve it, it is a great drink and the basil is a nice touch against the sparkling sweet and sour taste.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Sabai Sabai: A Thai Welcome Drink ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Pour the Mekhong, juice, syrup, and basil into a mixing glass.

    Mekhong, juice, syrup, and basil and a mixing glass

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add ice and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.

    cocktail ingredients in a shaker

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

    cocktail strained into a glass

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Top off club soda.

    Sabai Sabai: A Thai Welcome Drink

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • How much club soda you pour is going to depend on which way you choose to serve the drink. For a cocktail glass, a splash (or less than 1 ounce) will likely do. You'll need at least a couple of ounces for an old-fashioned glass. If you're going for a highball, you may need as much as 4 ounces. Ultimately, the point is to fill the glass.
  • Slap the basil leaves between the palm of your hands to awaken the herb's essential oils before mixing.

How Strong Is a Sabai Sabai?

Obviously, the Sabai Sabai is going to be a weaker drink with the more soda you pour. Taking the club soda average of 2 ounces, this recipe is a cool 8 percent ABV (16 proof), so it's not much stronger than a beer.

What is Mekong Liquor?

Mekhong is called "The Official Spirit of Thailand" and is often thought of as a style of whiskey. Yet, it does not fall into any well-known category of liquor and is unique unto itself.

The amber color of this liquor is deceptive. It is actually a combination of distilled sugar cane and molasses which makes it very rum-like. Yet, it's also similar to sake in that it includes 5 percent rice spirit (though sake is brewed and not distilled). Additionally, Mekhong is flavored with an undisclosed mixture of native Thai herbs.

Mekhong is distilled at the Bangyikhan Distillery in Bangkok, Thailand, and bottled at 35 percent ABV (70 proof). The brand was launched in 1941 and has been sold throughout Southeast Asia. Eventually, it hit the United Kingdom and European markets and, in 2008, it launched in the United States.

Recipe Variations

The ginger lime-tail is a very similar drink that features Mekhong. It is also a sweet and sour highball that tops everything off with ginger beer for a little extra snap.

To make the drink, pour 2 ounces Mekhong with 1/2 ounce lime juice and 3 lime wheels in a collins glass filled with ice. Cover it with a shaker tin and give the drink a good shake. Top with ginger beer and add a dash of Angostura bitters.