Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dodo not extinct




Dodo not extinct

Rémy Choisy stands behind the bar counter with a selection of passion fruit, coconut and coffee infused rums.
Rémy Choisy stands behind the bar counter with a selection of passion fruit, coconut and coffee infused rums. Hong Menea

Dodo not extinct

Nestled behind a tree on a one-way stretch of Street 130, and with no lit signage, Dodo Bar is easy to miss. Only the warm yellow glow of the lighting and perhaps the murmur of patrons inside would lure an unsuspecting customer into one of the more peculiar watering holes Phnom Penh has to offer.

Now in its second location since moving last May, Dodo is often mistakenly thought defunct by past patrons. But a decade since it first opened, owner Rémy Choisy is still serving his infused rum concoctions, content with staying out of the limelight.

For Choisy, 40, a soft-spoken Frenchman who has resided in the Kingdom since 2005, it’s all about infused rums, or rhums arrangés.

“It’s the basis of my bar,” he says. Infused rums are made from mixing flavours and spices that are soaked into the alcohol for a prolonged period of time, with a little sugar added to balance the flavours of the infusions.

For $3 a glass, Choisy’s creations pack a punch, and the range of flavours on offer would make it hard for anyone’s palette to feel left out. There’s the best-selling passion fruit, Choisy’s favourite orange zest, or coconut, coffee, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, ginger and spice to choose from.

Post Weekend sampled a selection, finding that some flavours, such as coffee or coconut, carried a creamy texture that entirely masked the burn of rum, while others, such as spice and cinnamon, accentuated the underlying taste. Choisy sticks with the recipes that have withstood the test of time.

“At the very start there were some, such as the coffee [rum], that were undrinkable. I needed to make it differently, but for the rest, it’s constant. I’ve never changed my recipes; I’ve kept them the same for 10 years,” he says.
Choisy first opened Dodo in 2006 on Street 178 before moving last year.

Choisy’s cinnamon rum.
Choisy’s cinnamon rum. Hong Menea

“When I came to Cambodia I could not find any rums that I wanted: from the Antilles, 50 degrees [alcohol content], it was impossible to find,” he says. “But then, with a stroke of luck, in 2006 I came upon this rum, and it’s [supplier] Celliers d’Asie that told me that they would be carrying it long-term. So on that beat, I threw myself into infused rums.”

Opening a rum bar was an unlikely venture for Choisy, who had been a steel worker from the Picardie region of France, just north of Paris.

He began to dabble in making his own rum infusions after travelling to French territories in the Caribbean, as well as the island of La Réunion, where rum is the drink of choice.

The idea to open a rum bar came as a matter of course, he says. After visiting Cambodia a few times, he chose to follow a French-Khmer friend who had moved to the Kingdom permanently and opened a restaurant. That friend “motivated” him to try opening a bar.

And for a dozen years Choisy has carved out a niche, relying on a crowd of regulars – mostly French and Franco-Khmer – who fill his cosy space night after night.

Down to the décor, which is in part artwork inherited from a friend who left town, the bar has a casual living room feel to it. On a weeknight you’ll find patrons stirring the pot on society and politics over one of his flavourful concoctions. Ever unconventional, Choisy is content with keeping a low profile.

He’s not on social media at all, and the business’s only Facebook presence is because a client once managed the account for him. “But beyond that, it’s not really my thing,” he says.

Despite its online invisibility the bar is open and welcoming, not just to his regular customers. As the first, if not the only, infused rum bar in town, Choisy entices customers to get experimental. “Try what you don’t know,” he says.

Dodo Bar is located at #133, Street 130, and is open Monday-Saturday from 5pm-late. Tel: 012 549 373

MOST VIEWED

  • First Khmer woman to pass out of West Point

    The life of a soldier certainly isn’t for everyone. The training is gruelling, the hours long and there’s no room for excuses. On top of that, soldiers must be ready to respond to sudden threats at a moment’s notice. Just ask Sithyka

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last