Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mixing ‘spicy’ cocktails with fresh local ingredients




Mixing ‘spicy’ cocktails with fresh local ingredients

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Asana Bar in Siem Reap province offers unique cocktails that are a mix of Khmer kitchen ingredients and white wine. thy sophanna

Mixing ‘spicy’ cocktails with fresh local ingredients

In the famous Pub Street in downtown Siem Reap, one can sample everything from bedpan cocktails and cheap beers at the bars which compete with carts selling alcoholic beverages. In short, one can find an array of wines, spirits and beverages that suit every palate and price point.

But among all that choice is one venue that stands out as a must visit. Asana Bar, which strives to offer patrons a new experience opened almost seven years ago. It is still able to maintain its “cut above” stature, thanks to its unique cocktails that are a mix of Khmer kitchen ingredients and white wine.

Located in the town centre, patronising this one-of-a-kind bar gives visitors the impression they have arrived in a rural village.

The traditional wooden design of Asana Bar is due to the fact that it used to be a family home that was built in the 1960s.

Considered a contemporary designed “modern house” when it was built, it is today said to be the last traditional house in the Phsar Chas area and stands as evidence of the progress Siem Reap town has made from its once sleepy hollow.

The bar’s owner, Un Sophary, says she is proud to be able to show off a rural, Khmer-styled house in Siem Reap town to foreign guests who flock there.

“They exclaim wow! And ask where the house came from?’ But they are not the only ones in awe at the design. Our younger generation Khmers are just as surprised at the design since they know very little of Khmer traditions, especially how houses used to be built decades ago,” she says.

At Asana, wooden chairs and pillows are covered with rice sacks, while beds are tied and hung with mattress covers. A beautiful sofa under the house makes for a perfect aftersnoon snooze, while the upstairs bar table has a Buddhist picture attached to the roof and a large sofa full of rice sacks.

In between mixing a cocktail and being interviewed by The Post, Dwen Franke who is a guest at Asana says: “When I heard of a bar designed from a traditional wooden house in the centre of the town, it peaked my interest.

“I really wanted to see it and taste one of its ‘famously unique’ cocktails. In this block, we see modern buildings everywhere. This house is of a rural style which you can see a lot of in rural Cambodia."

“I had not been to Southeast Asia before arriving in Cambodia. This is an experience of a lifetime. Each time I open my eyes, I see new things everywhere, including the uniqueness of a culture that’s new to me,” says the young man who hails from the US.

Asana Bar mainly serves Khmer traditional and Western-styled cocktails created by bar owner Sophary, who says she uses ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, a paddy herb, kaffir lime leaves and white rice wine.

“Initially I made only non-alcoholic cocktails from ginger, lemongrass and tamarind among others. But because I had no market, I started to blend in some spirits with the cocktails. And over time, I expanded the range to offer more unique ones that have become popular,” he says.

Sophary says her cocktail blends are a mark of her success as they as unique, and nobody else has managed to copy the recipes thus far.

And except for the white wine that is blended into the cocktails, the rest of the ingredients are uniquely Khmer, she stressed.

She says she even teaches guests how to mix three kinds of wine with ingredients such as ginger, tamarind water and Asana Sling for $15. It includes bites such as meats which go with the cocktails. Now guests can try their hand a making their own cocktail masterpieces with Khmer kitchen ingredients.

Pointing to a patron, Sophary says: “She made a tamarind water cocktail with ingredients that included tamarind water, paddy herb and kaffir lime leaves among others to make her own cocktail masterpiece.

Another popular cocktail is the Asana Sling. It’s like the Singapore Sling, but I add in a traditional Khmer herb wine to the blend.”

Asana Bar is open from 5pm to 2am and located at house No. 7, Modul 1 Village (2nd entrance in front of the provincial hospital) near Pub Street in Siem Reap town. Those planning a visit can even call 092 98 78 01 for directions.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian

  • Plastic-to-rice initiative transforms waste into bricks

    Volunteers in Kampong Khlaing commune of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have been collecting plastic waste to use as a raw material for the production of bricks and clemence tiles. The volunteers are hoping that, in addition to helping clean up the environment,