Like many capitals in the region, Phnom Penh boasts an impressive collection of low-key, hole in the wall pubs and drinkeries. But where to go when the novelty of $1 beers and plastic chairs wears off? It’s a question I’ve managed to collect some answers to. Accompany me on my journey through the vibrant, uneven streets of the Penh … after dark.
Luckily the capital is catering to a constantly evolving crowd – hipster, elite, backpacker, standard expat – you name it, they’ll be residing somewhere in the city. On nights when a more casual breeze is ruffling my feathers, I’ll head to Tuol Tumpung and climb up Sundown Social’s narrow staircase to enjoy the views the name promises its patrons. Their collection of tiki-inspired cocktails and hearty finger food are perfect to enjoy on the high stools and among the 80’s inspired neon.
After a filling portion of savoury snacks, a sweet drink really hits the spot; an exotic Piña colada, Banana Daiquiri, or Mai Tai wash down real nice. For those more adventurous or in a group and wanting to share, their enticing cocktail jugs will have you wanting to try all the flavours – Pimm’s Jug (Pimm’s, Bombay Sapphire Gin, fresh cucumber, mint, limes, oranges, Ginger ale and soda), Raspberry Mojito Jug (Bacardi White rum, house made raspberry syrup, fresh mint, lime juice, sugar, and soda), or Le Grand Fizz (vodka, house made curaçao, fresh lime, and soda) to name a few.
In case you aren’t ready to conclude your evening once the sun’s gone down and you’ve sipped your way through the drinks menu, an enjoyable continuation can be the core of Street 51 – Heart of Darkness. Not only will bar staff satisfy your cocktail crave in a flash, the dancefloor will make sure you go spinning back for more. A couple of Kamikaze cocktails (vodka, lemon, sugar) are an ideal pick-me-up and will tempt even the most unlikely dancers to get down and boogie.
In the unlikely event that you’re still wearing sober goggles and haven’t painted the town a dark enough shade of red, order a Long Island and soak in the decor – guaranteed you won’t be lounging around for long once the libation hits. Some nights when I’m feeling cooler I’ll go for their signature cocktail: Cool Heart. A piercing combination of liquids (amaretto vodka honey lime soda); it crowns the night and makes you feel like a queen.
Once the sparkles have stopped shimmering, I know it’s time to call it a night. In the unlikely event of no demands for a nightcap, I make my way to the unrivalled Katy Peri’s Pizza. Their juicy pizza slices demand a glass of ice-cold beer, typically Angkor or Cambodia. This will undoubtedly prepare you for your tuk-tuk ride home and complete your night in the Penh as it should – appeased and thrilled.