From chic rooftops to speakeasy hideouts and Cambodian distilleries serving their own secret brew: here are ten bars every cocktail lover should experience in Phnom Penh.
While Phnom Penh’s mixology scene might still be on the rise compared to Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City, bars in the Cambodian capital are flourishing. Their inventive, cosmopolitan menus reflect the city’s diversity, resilience and youthful energy. Signature cocktails tend to be tangy and refreshing, blending local Khmer herbs, spices and liqueurs with international staples. Phnom Penh has no shortage of breathtaking rooftop bars from which to admire the cityscape, happy hour conveniently coinciding with sundown. After dark, explore confidential cocktail lounges where Khmer locals, expats and travelers gleefully rub shoulders. A tipple might cost as little as US $5 or $6, and even an elaborate concoction on the most sophisticated rooftop will set you back less than a drink in most European cities (though this should be no excuse not to savor in moderation).
Sora Sky Bar
Perched atop the 37th floor of the Vattanac Capital Tower, a cantilevered terrace haloing the Rosewood Hotel, the stylish Sora Sky Bar is by far the highest in Phnom Penh. Soaring 188 meters (617 feet) over the city, the panoramic views make a chic first-date impression. Get there at sunset for a picture perfect cocktail: refined creations from head mixologist Udom. Try the Slek Chak (Kampot pepper and coconut-infused rums, frothy egg white and house-made mangrove palm orgeat), or Sora’s Milk Punch with kaffir lime, Rinomato Scuro, Wedges gin and clarified milk. A range of ‘eco-conscious cocktails’ reduces packaging waste and guarantees a tree planted for each beverage ordered. Drinks are served with olives and local cashews, or choose from the Asian fusion sharing plates. Every month, Sora welcomes guest mixologists from the World’s 50 Best Bars affiliation for an experience that is about much more than the view.
Rosewood Hotel, Monivong Boulevard 66, Phnom Penh 12202
When your tuk tuk pulls up out front, it looks like you’ve arrived at a liquor store, and that the store is closed. Don’t be fooled. It’s all a front for Prei cocktail bar and bistro, elegant yet cosy with its plush velvet chairs and vintage Cambodian posters and records adorning the walls. The most modern touch: browsing through menus on tablets. Founded by husband and wife team Stephen Hansen and Liza Kao, Prei claims to offer the largest classic craft cocktail menu in Cambodia, with reimagined classics (apple and cinnamon old fashioned, rice paddy gimlet with lemongrass tincture) and adventurous signatures (the Conquistador, with Mezcal, Plantation OFTD, campari, grapefruit liqueur, chocolate and truffle) prepared with flair by Liverpool-born Conor Giles. Prei also offers bespoke cocktails on request, to surprise you with an original creation based on your tastes. The refined sharing plates menu has been created in collaboration with the local restaurant Fat Passion.
#15 street 214 , Sangkat Boeung Riang, Khan Daun Penh Phnom Penh, 12211
Behind unmarked, heavy wooden doors in a quiet street in the trendy BKK1 district lies one of Phnom Penh’s busiest bars – though perhaps that’s because it’s only open Thursdays. A DJ spins at the entry, setting the mood for hip Cambodians and expats perched around wooden barrels in a converted warehouse space. In plain view, the fermentation tanks and distillation machinery used by Samai to make the smooth Cambodian rum you’ve been sipping. Try a Walnut Old Fashioned (Samai gold rum, maple syrup, black walnut bitters) or a Tropical Escape (Samai white rum, Tomoka banana and spice liqueur, passionfruit syrup and lime). The rum here is pretty special on its own; sample four glasses of their signature brews (including the zingy Kampot pepper rum) for around $12. Expect a creative cocktail menu for special events like Christmas and Chinese or Khmer New Year.
#9b, Street 830, 830 Samdach Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh 12301
The Bassac Lane area has been Phnom Penh’s thriving pub-crawl destination since 2013, and at the very end of the alley of the original Bassac Lane lies Uniga, a recent edition opened in 2021. Just look for the striking mural painted by the bar’s co-owner Yimmay Visith. Welcome to Uniga (a portmanteau meaning ‘prosperity, equality and friendship’), where the bar staff are certainly friendly. Their specialty cocktails are wildly eclectic and don’t shy from bold Khmer flavors: the signature Oun Saat Avey Mles (‘You Are So Beautiful’) features prahok, the pungent fermented fish paste found in savory Cambodian dishes, extracted into its essence and mixed with whiskey, honey, lime, and ginger, for a salty and surprisingly refreshing brew. Other playfully named cocktails contain no less exotic touches like coconut syrup, jackfruit jam and sticky rice syrup (‘I am single’). But it’s not just the ingredients that make Uniga special; it’s the storytelling behind each cocktail on their vintage-inspired drinks list.
M111 Street 308 Phnom Penh, 12301
The fabled, impossibly elegant Elephant Bar at Raffles Hotel Le Royal opened in 1929, and little seems to have changed of the decor since then with its vaulted ceiling, sumptuous frescoes and ceramic and brass elephants surveying their kingdom. Overlooking the garden in the east wing of this vast colonial mansion, its most famous cocktail (aside from Raffles’ Singapore Sling) is the Femme Fatale, created for Jacqueline Kennedy during her 1967 visit to Cambodia. The signature menu offers exotic mixes, several award-winning concoctions like the Sensory Mango Boulevardier (Bruichladdich Classic Laddie, Campari, Cocchi Vermouth, mango cordial), and the largest selection of gin in Asia, including its own Elephant Bar Gin. Not sure what to order? The head bartender Pisai will orient you. Line up some tapas or a lavish high tea and settle in for a generous happy hour spell (4-9pm).
Raffles Hotel Le Royal, 92 Rukhak Vithei, Phnom Penh 12302
No sign illuminates this discreet wooden lodge in the BKK1 district. The first thing that stands out is the music, as you enter the narrow, candlelit bar; the 1930s jazz soundtrack seems to usher you back to the Prohibition, and under its spell. The next thing that stands out is the bottles lining the walls: Odin carefully curates its collection of spirits and rare whiskeys. It’s the pride of owner and head barman Ryoichi ‘Shimo’ Shimoda, who prepares cocktails with the surgical precision, grace and inscrutable flair you might expect from a bar in Ginza. From the timber counter (the only pace to sit, really), watch him prepare a smokey espresso martini or a Godfather (Scotch and amaretto). The cocktail menu may not stray from the classics, but it’s rare to experience them with such pure, harmonious subtlety, drawing new sensations from old staples. Sushi and cigars also available à la carte.
#22A St. 282, BKK1 Chomkarmorn, Phnom Penh 08860
Taking its name from the Arabic word for season and the root word of ‘monsoon’, Mawsim is a Japanese gin manufacturer based in Cambodia, using native botanicals such as Mandulkiri pepper, makrut lime and cardamom to infuse its elixirs. The intimate, wood-panelled headquarters function as a micro-distillery by day and tasting room by night. There is attention in every minimalist detail, from the copper countertop forged by Siem Reap artisans, handmade Japanese Gifu lanterns, the nibbles (gin-infused raisin butter on crackers, Japanese-style fried eggplant) and the cocktails themselves: works of art (just watch them smoke the smokey negroni). Mawsim takes gin and tonic to new heights: a base of either tropical citrus or spices and herbs with their in-house tonic water (or try it with a special twist, such as matcha green tea). Feeling indulgent? Opt for the unlimited ‘free flow’ tasting of four gins, or reserve for a gin and food pairing dinner.
#133E1, St.108, Sk.Sras Chhork, Kh.Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
Luscious tiki decor, hip live bands, a young and energetic team, and colorful cocktails make Voodoo Boulevard one of the most Instagram-worthy bars in town, with guaranteed good vibes. Following the success of their sister bar in Kampot, Voodoo Blvd keeps its inspired creations flowing in the Wat Botum neighborhood of Phnom Penh: signature drinks like the Ninkasi (Mosaïc Hops infused Bombay Sapphire, Peach Liqueur, basil, rosemary and thyme, lime juice and tonic) are beautifully presented, with a limited-edition potion of the week keeping things fresh for regulars (such as the ‘Dill or No Dill?’ with dill and cucumber-infused Stolichnaya, lychee liqueur, lime juice and egg white). A fine way to wash down the Italo-Asian fusion tapas before dancing up a storm.
Voodoo Boulevard, St 258, Phnom Penh
Narrow stairs and a mysterious, illuminated sign lead to this intimate bar with modern, minimalist design. Bar Eve was co-founded by gifted young New Zealand mixologist Morgan Taua (one of the personalities behind Bar Pearl, another cocktail den to try in Phnom Penh). The specialty cocktail list may not be extensive, but each creation merits being ordered again and again. What makes their espresso martini so moreish? It’s that little splash of peanut butter-flavored tequila. Eve is undeniably where all the cool kids hang out in BKK1, especially on Fridays when guest DJs start spinning RnB and hip hop beats until late. (It’s a two-minute walk from Odin, if you feel like bar-hopping with style.)
37 St 310, BKK1 12300, Phnom Penh
Seekers Spirit House
The garden to glass concept is taking hold in Phnom Penh, with yet another local distillery opening its doors to the public with a cocktail menu artfully designed to shine the spotlight on its gin and vodka wares. Seekers may be a little off the main drag in the south of the city, but well worth a visit, with its relaxing garden (a pool table, petanque terrain and occasional concerts enrich the space) as well as an indoor bar in the light-filled warehouse. Be sure to try at least one drink featuring the Jason Kong Mekong Butterfly gin, giving off a luminous purple hue which naturally changes color depending on the ingredients added. (Lychee and coffee-infused gins serve as a base for those who like to sub dessert for a martini.) Tapas and signature cocktail pairings complete the experience.
Taty 1577, B3, National Road 2, Chak Angre Phnom Penh