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Phnom Penh picks: top cocktails

Suzie Wong at Bar.sito.
Suzie Wong at Bar.sito. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Phnom Penh picks: top cocktails

Bored of cheap beer or refrigerated red wine? We’ve picked the best of the city’s more upmarket tipples. Take your pick from jasmine tea with a twist to a range of mojitos.

Suzie Wong at bar.sito
A romantic drama from the ’60s, The World of Suzie Wong follows an American architect in Hong Kong who meets Mee Ling, a seemingly proper woman who turns out to be a prostitute who calls herself Suzie Wong. So it seems right that at
Bar. sito, the speakeasy-style drinking hole off Street 240, there’s a pink and highly seductive cocktail named after her. Mixing a generous measure of vodka with real watermelon, the drink is smooth, sweet and goes down very, very easy. Priced at $5.
Bar.sito, Street 240 and a half, an alley way off Street 240.

Thai Coconut at Chinese House.
Thai Coconut at Chinese House. Poppy McPherson

Thai Coconut at Chinese House
Formerly the mansion of a merchant in the early 20th century, Chinese House is one of the classiest places to drink in the city. With high ceilings, big comfortable sofas and a rolling schedule of excellent art exhibitions, the downstairs bar lends itself to long evenings. The cocktail menu makes use of many Asian flavours, but it’s the Thai Coconut ($4.50) which is top of the lot for the more sweet-toothed. With coconut rum, white rum and a hint of lemongrass, the taste is crisp and fresh. Accompany with an appetiser: the cheddar cheese and fig pastries come recommended.
Chinese House, #45 Sisowath Quay

The Eve at Sofitel.
The Eve at Sofitel. Bennett Murray

The Eve at Sofitel

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Sofitel’s central office asked all its female bar staff around the world to submit their best original cocktail recipes. The winner came from Regina, an Indian bartender at Sofitel Forebase Chongqing in China. With its Tanqueray No. Ten gin, jasmine tea, lemon juice and grapefruit juice, it has the citrusy aroma of a margarita as well as the smooth gentleness of a herbal tea. The jasmine in particular nicely complements the gin’s juniper berry flavouring.



Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, #26 Old August Site. Available at Le Bar throughout March.


Liquid Bar’s Bloody Mojito in Passion.
Liquid Bar’s Bloody Mojito in Passion. Charlotte Pert

Bloody Mojito in Passion at Liquid Bar
If you’re looking for a strong – very strong – twist on the classic mojito, Liquid can offer a pretty original take. Bloody Mojito in Passion is one of its special cocktails, and is $3.50, or $3 during happy hour between 5pm and 8pm. With added grenadine syrup, ginger ale and a whole passionfruit on top of the standard ingredients, it doesn’t taste that much like a mojito, but the fresh mint and whole fresh lime give it that all-important zest. The bartenders mix together Bacardi and Havana Club rums, too, which is why, on top of the grenadine, the booze may rush to your head, and the drink’s fluorescent pink colour may make you feel more than just a little bit dizzy.
Liquid Bar, 3B Street 178

Quay Hotel Bar’s Mango Mojito.
Quay Hotel Bar’s Mango Mojito. Charlotte Pert

Mango Mojito at Quay Hotel Bar
While its primary function is a hotel, Quay has become an increasingly popular spot to watch the sun set on Riverside over happy hour drinks (4pm - 8.30pm). The mango mojito takes advantage of the fruit being in season, and contains several slices of fresh mango on top of the Bacardi, fresh lime, fresh mint, brown sugar and soda water. The bartender also pours in some extra lime juice. At $6.50 the drink isn’t cheap, but its price during happy hour (half price at $3.25) is perfectly reasonable – especially with such an excellent view to boot.
Quay Hotel Bar, 277 Sisowath Quay

Femme Fatale at Raffles.
Femme Fatale at Raffles. Will Jackson

Femme Fatale at the Elephant Bar
Legend has it that during a visit to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy visited the Raffles Hotel and ordered her favourite cocktail – the femme fatale – while listening to one of Norodom Sihanouk’s jazz compositions on the hotel’s piano. Years later, so the story goes, the glass was found still marked by her lipstick. A visit to the hotel’s Elephant Bar is all about fantasy – Raffles, which originated in British Singapore, is a portal to an alternate dimension where the sun never did set on the British Empire – so why not have a go at pretending to be the grand dame Jackie O and order up one of the drinks, which blend sparkling wine, brandy and strawberry liqueur. Though be warned, they cost $12 ($6 during happy hour) a pop, so it could become an expensive bit of role play.
Elephant Bar, 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh

Brown Spice.
Brown Spice. Will Jackson

Brown Spice at The Common Tiger
Oddly enough, it’s not that often in Phnom Penh that you see local flavours on cocktail lists. The Common Tiger’s Brown Spice (tamarind, vodka, triple sec with a chilli, sugar, salt rim) is sultry and voluptuous in the mouth, with that particularly Southeast Asian balance of salty, sweet, hot and sour. At $5.50 it’s not cheap – nothing on the menu is – but like the restaurant’s food, the Brown Spice provides an experience unlike any other in town.
The Common Tiger, Street 294.

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