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Ritzy tipples that will cause a few ripples

Ritzy tipples that will cause a few ripples

You don’t have to be staying at any of Phnom Penh’s ritzier hotels to drink in their bars. Will Jackson and Bennett Murray found six of the best spots for a bit of classy drinking, benchmarked by the quality of their gin and tonics

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Elephant Bar at Raffles Hotel Le Royal
The best thing about the Elephant Bar is the happy hour (4pm to 9pm), when drinks are 50 per cent off. The worst thing is that’s the only time the bar’s drinks are even remotely affordable. A coke costs $5. However, because of the colonial theme, it’s without doubt the best place to drink G&Ts, which are served with a very generous measure of gin with an extra carafe of tonic, so you can fix ’em just the way you want ’em. There’s no Hendriks, but they do have Tanqueray N10 ($12), which is very tasty indeed.
Atmosphere: 5 | Value for money: 4 (during happy hour otherwise 1) | G&Ts: 4.5
Elephant Bar: Raffles Le Royal, #92 Rukhak Vithei.

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Rooftop Bar at Quay Boutique Hotel
Sipping cocktails on a sunny afternoon at Quay Boutique Hotel’s rooftop bar isn’t exactly like being in the Mediterranean. But taking the elevator to the fourth floor of this modish white-on-white-themed Riverside retreat is a damn sight easier than catching a flight to Europe. Dip your feet in the paddle pool, knock back a white wine ($4.50) and convince yourself you’re in Mallorca. Don’t bother with the gin though – the best they have is Bombay Sapphire ($5).
Atmosphere: 4 | Value for money: 3 | G&Ts: 2
Quay Bar: Quay Hotel, #277 Sisowath Quay.

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D22 Bar at Tama Hotel
One level below the open-air Eclipse Sky Bar in Monivong’s Phnom Penh Tower building is the newly-opened Tama Hotel’s D22 Bar. This offers views almost as impressive but without the risk of a monsoonal drenching. The Japanese-owned watering hole is worth checking out for the decor alone. It’s . . . eclectic. With its mix-and-match leather couches, model tall ships, old typewriters, bicycles, spinning wheels, film cameras and other random bric-a-brac, D22 is in danger of going past hipster vintage and into antique shop territory. Throw in some interesting draft Carlsberg ($3.50) and cocktails (on the menu, they range from $4.50 up to $15 for a “flaming Lamborghini”) and you have the makings of an interesting night.
Atmosphere: 5 | Value for money: 4 | G&Ts: 2
D22: Tama Hotel, Phnom Penh Tower, floor 22 #445 Monivong Boulevard.

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Kolab Sor Sky Bar
Want to enjoy a rooftop tipple without paying top dollar? Away from the Riverside tourist beat is Kolab Sor’s bar. This provides a nearly panoramic view of the heart of Phnom Penh just off the corner of Monivong Boulevard and Street 310. While the views aren’t as impressive as those from the city’s mega towers, the staff is gregarious and the prices fairly reasonable. Bombay Sapphire and Gordons are $4, while the more ambitious can order what is perhaps the most unusual gin drink in the city: The Flaming Rose Lamborghini Tower ($12), complete with gin, mint, Baileys, Kahlua, Blue Curacao, Sambuca and Midori. As the name implies, this intricately layered concoction is set alight prior to serving. The usual domestic beers are available for $2.50, while imported Heineken, Corona, Budweiser, Tiger and Guinness can be had for $3.50.
Atmosphere: 4 | Value for money: 3 | G&Ts: 4
Kolab Sar, #436, Street 310. 5-12pm

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Le Bar
The lobby bar at Sofitel, named Southeast Asia’s second best hotel last year by Condé Nast Traveller, is so sleek and well-stocked it wouldn’t be out of place in the home of a banking chief executive. Six kinds of gin are on offer, including Ungava ($12++), infused with botanicals from the Canadian arctic. The Bou Sraa Waterfall ($9), Le Bar’s signature drink made from Cambodian rice spirit infused with jasmine flower, tamarind liqueur, creme de peche, dragon fruit and more, won the Cambodian Restaurant Association’s Cocktail Making Competition 2012. But with top quality comes towering prices – unless you are fresh off the plane or on an expense account. The blow is softened on Fridays, with a 5-9pm happy hour on selected drinks and $5 tapas.
Atmosphere: 5 | Value for money: 2 (double the score for happy hour) | G&Ts: 5
Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, #27 Old August Site. 8am-11:30pm

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Cambodiana Lobby Bar
The Cambodiana Hotel’s Lobby Bar provides a smoky, dimly lit drinking spot that is either depressingly dreary or delightfully dingy, depending on your tastes. It is somewhat cheaper than the city’s other luxury hotels, with Tiger draft beer at $4 and Bombay Sapphire at $6, but it lacks the unique atmosphere of Raffles or Sofitel. There is also a half-price happy hour from 5pm to 7pm for the duration of the World Cup. The hotel’s signature drink is the Cambodiana River Breeze ($6), complete with white rum, blue Curacao, Amaretto, pineapple juice and honey.
Atmosphere: 2 | Value for money: 2 (add another point for World Cup happy hour) G&Ts: 2
Cambodiana Hotel, #313 Sisowath Quay. 8am-midnight

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