K2 is not a busy bar yet and seems to be in no rush to become one. It’s a place without a hint of hype: not even a lighted sign at the entrance to the narrow alley that leads to it from Street 268 (Suramarit Blvd). There’s just a large black ‘K’ that’s easy to miss in the early evening haze, when cocktails go two for the price of one.
Despite its industrial décor – dark charcoal-coloured barren concrete walls – there’s a cosiness to the spot behind the vegan haven K’Nyay Restaurant that’s more than a bit inviting. Its aim, according to bar manager Rith, is to attract a socially conscious gay and lesbian clientele without frightening away those with other inclinations.
“Should we describe ourselves as straight friendly?” he asks.
He’s hoping to avoid drag shows as well as wait staff doubling as sex workers and the sort of clientele fond of their desperation. “We want to attract people who respect each other,” Rith explains.
The new bar menu should be out by now and it includes a cocktail that – despite the passionfruit cliché – is worth ordering more than twice.
Named after the bar, the K2 is a bit disingenuous: a cocktail disguised as a health tonic. This is a result of the competing flavours – ginger, lime, sugar and mint – that camouflage the generous shot of vodka and the quick splash of triple sec that give it its bite.
K2, like the new cocktail, is a bar in search of a clientele.
Whether Phnom Penh’s nascent gay and lesbian scene is ready for it remains to be seen. Perhaps it needs a bit of help from our friends.
K2 (the cocktail)
Ingredients: Vodka, triple sec, ginger beer, lime juice, sugar syrup, mint sprig, slice of lime, fresh passionfruit.
K2 (the bar)
Address: End of the alley off Street 268 between Street 19 and Sothearos Blvd, behind K’Nyay Restaurant.
Hours: 6pm till late every night.