A buzzy new micro-bar scene has popped up in the Cambodian capital.
Hidden down gritty alleyways and narrow lanes in living, breathing neighbourhoods, seven tiny bars have become the hottest watering holes in Phnom Penh. Each has an idiosyncratic style, new for a city known for dingy girlie bars and colonial riverside pubs.
The micro-bars attract a mix of expats and Cambodia's rising middle class. A vintage bespoke motorcycle (for sale) hangs from the ceiling of the masculine, dimly lit Hangar 44, which opened on Bassac Lane last November. Across the alley, The Library, a Daiquiri bar with shuttered windows and lined with bookshelves, opened in August. Opposite, the dark interior of Meat & Drink, which serves hamburgers, Cambodian beer and Asian-inspired cocktails, is enlivened by fresh flowers and a patio providing prime people-watching. I nurse a Negroni, as a woman in floral pyjamas cycles by and a toddler shows me his plastic doll of Korean pop-star Psy. Behind a glass door, Cicada specialises in infused gins, while adjacent aperitivo bar Seibur feels Japanese in size and Italian in style, serving Spritzes and wine. Where's Harry, a Martini bar with a rooftop terrace, opened last month, and a new spot could take the form of a beer garden offering Cambodian barbecue.
The blokes behind these bars, Kiwi brothers William and George Norbert-Munns, aren't sure yet. A Phnom Penh resident of nine years, William worked at Chicane in Surry Hills before managing bars at Guillaume at Bennelong and Icebergs. George, who joined him a few years later, was a former Melbourne advertising creative. Their first project, Bar.sito, was quickly followed by Public House, which features the dishes of their childhood including their mum's shepherd's pie.
Public House and Bar.sito, Street 240½ Alleyway; Seibur, Cicada, The Library, Meat & Drink and Hangar 44, Bassac La