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Getting tipsy on the city’s best boutique booze

Tired of the same old brands of Cambodian beer but still want to keep it local? Here are five purveyors of fine tipples that are producing their own variations on your favourite beverages.

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CICADA
The stark white micro bar Cicada – now known simply as “the gin bar” – has four different flavours of infused gins: rosemary, chilli, cinnamon and pepper. The owners admit that they’re constantly experimenting and improving their infusing technique, so it’s worth repeat tastings over time to see how the flavours are evolving. They also have plans to expand the range in the near future. In the meantime, the rosemary G&T ($5) is a favourite, while the chilli gin is good for those who need a reviver.
Bassac Lane (off Street 308).

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HIMAWARI MICROBREWERY
From the crisp pale ale Aspara Gold to the sweet stout Oats, all the beers made at the microbrewery behind the bar at Himawari Hotel go down smoothly. Ingredients from Germany and New Zealand are used to make four brews: Apsara Gold; an American-inspired India pale ale, CentenniALE; a stout called Oats; and Gem and Jade, which blends an earthy, hoppy taste with malty caramel. Best enjoyed in a small or medium-sized glass on the Himawari patio, overlooking the river. Small glass and bottles cost $4.99, and a medium glass is $5.99. Additional service and VAT fees are charged.
#313 Sisowath Quay. Open from 12pm.

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DODO RHUM HOUSE
Nestled in an inconspicuous storefront on Street 278, Dodo Rhum House offers a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the traffic and street vendors. Under soft lighting, the bar serves up an array of infused rums, with flavours including coffee, cinnamon and coconut. We recommend the passionfruit, which bursts with a sweet and tangy flavour, while the ginger packs quite a punch. Enjoy a relaxing drink while you brush up on your French-language skills with one of the regulars.
Dodo Rhum Bar, #42 Street 178 (between Norodom Boulevard and Street 19).

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SAMAI DISTILLERY
The newly opened Samai Distillery has become best known for its kickin’ Thursday night soirees – it’s easily the most stylishly appointed industrial manufacturing facility in Cambodia. However, the business’s primary function is actually to make premium rum. They still haven’t officially launched their retail product – though they keep selling it at the bar – but they expect to have a couple of extra fermentation vats online in the next few weeks so it should be all systems go over that. Down the track, they’re planning to offer flavoured rums including coffee and Kampot pepper.
#9b Street 830 (off Sothearos Boulevard).

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SPARK & TAWANDANG MICROBREWERY
The chief appeal of the Spark & Tawandang Microbrewery is the nightly shows which feature spectacularly costumed and choreographed dancing, and singers performing popular songs in various languages. The tasty microbrewed beer – which comes in lager, dark and wheat varieties and is served in litre glasses or in towers – is a cut above any of Cambodia’s mass-produced brews, but that’s really just a bonus. Entry is free, but the food is a bit pricey. It’s worth it for the shows though.
Mao Tse Toung Boulevard (opposite the Chinese embassy).

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