Australian Nathan Headlam is the co-founder of newly opened drinking hole Long After Dark, one of the few places to grab a late-night libation in the Russian Market neighbourhood. He spoke to Brent Crane this week about opening the new bar
What do you guys offer that other drinking holes in the area don’t?
We’re trying to create a welcoming space and atmosphere where people from all walks of life can come together to unwind over good food, good drink and good company. We have an extensive range of draught beer and cider as well as one of Cambodia’s largest whiskey offerings. We haven’t set out to necessarily re-invent the hospitality wheel, we’re more aiming to use great design, service, produce and music to create something that people will enjoy and have fun with.
How did the idea come to life?
Opening our own place is something that has stayed with co-owner Brendan and I since we first met working bars together in Melbourne in 2010. I originally came to Cambodia in 2014 on a 12-month capacity-building assignment with an environmental development NGO. I decided to pitch the idea of Phnom Penh, well more specifically Russian Market, to Brendan, who to my pleasant surprise jumped at the prospect. Unlike Melbourne and other big Western cities, Phnom Penh’s vibrant nightlife isn’t completely saturated, and there are real opportunities to get creative and have a go. We got lucky with our location and venue – a really interesting two-storey wooden Khmer house with a great terrace overlooking the market – and ended up signing a lease and starting construction in December.
Are there any venues elsewhere in the world that you have taken inspiration from?
We really liked the look and feel of southern-style whiskey bars and speakeasies, so we blended those themes with the classic wooden Khmer architecture of the original building. Environmental sustainability is also something really important to us, and all of the wood used in the venue (which is significant!) and furniture is reclaimed from old houses and boats.
Do you have any unique cocktails or food items?
We currently have four draught beer and cider options: pilsner, chocolate lager, strawberry cider, apple cider, as well as an extensive selection of 55-plus single malts and bourbons. We’ve also recently launched our full food menu, which includes classic Western pub fare such as our house pork belly, grilled snapper, gourmet toasties, chicken parmigiana and much more.
Long After Dark is located at #86 Street 450. Opening hours are 5pm (moving to noon after Khmer New Year) until late Tuesdays to Fridays and noon until late on weekends.