Sora Bar Shows Us How It's Done

The new cocktail menu at Sora Bar, Rosewood Phnom Penh gets it right
Published: 8 May 2024
Sora Bar.

Any modern bar these days has got to have a solid concept, respective motif cocktails, and all the vibes in the world. It’s practically law. Positioned near the peak of the city’s first true skyscraper, Sora Bar seemingly has its work cut out for it from the outset.

The bar scene in Cambodia does not lack its speakeasies and distilleries (it’s home to premium rum distillery Samai and World’s Best Flavoured Gin 2023 MAWSIM craft gin). From an outsider’s perspective, they all share a little rough-edged, charactered attitude inherited from the city.

So when you see Rosewood Phnom Penh sticking out from the skyline like a sore thumb—in a good way—and the bar’s cantilevered terrace sticking out like the sore thumb’s sore thumb, you know you’re in for divergence.

Sora (“sky” in Japanese) Bar is located 37 floors up, so obviously, the view’s great. While the outdoor deck hits the standard look of sky- high rooftop bars, the indoor seating features pockets of semi-intimate spaces, an open row by the almost unassuming counter and under a centrepiece of mirrored orbs.

Drinks perpetuate this school of refined thought. Nuance is the keyword here for the 12 progressive tipples in the new The Book of Yokai. The menu is divided into four chapters highlighting the country’s notable exports: rice, sugar palm, Kampot pepper, and banana, then framed according to Japanese folklore entities.

What usually transgresses the line from thematic to pure schtick is how on the nose you go. Here, classics are still revered and twists are subtle.

The Bow ‘n The Arrow has a complex amalgamation of sake and straight wheat vodka, rice and almond milk, grilled lemon and lemongrass. It ought to read highly peculiar on the tongue, but it is actually one of the smoothest in the lineup.

Another crowd favourite is the Green Leaf Fizz, a gin and white port base with citrus, kaffir leaf, matcha, soda and, of course, sugar palm that lingers quietly in the background. Representing the notorious Kampot pepper is Sora 75 in a refreshing aperitivo-style passionfruit sherbet topped with sparkling sake.

Finally, in a highball ode to the staple fruit, The Crow Collins uses the flower rather than other commonly used parts of a banana. This results in a naturally pink hue, a garnish that cheekily nods to the Pinocchio-like Japanese mountain spirit Tengu, and a slight medicinal note that satisfies a personal preference.

It’s easy to see why the bar has made it on the World’s 50 Best Discovery list. And in true Rosewood style, there’s more to experience. Like the food at neighbouring Iza (do yourself a true favour and order the ramen) and award-winning steakhouse Cuts.

If you want to go hardcore, visit Whisky Library for its wide collection of cigars and single malts in classy lounging. Have them neat or in six concoctions that play on the historical aspects of Japanese Samurais. Like Sora Bar, each establishment housed within the penthouse levels effortlessly exudes gentle confidence and brilliant thoughtfulness.

Sora Bar is located at Vattanac Capital Tower, 66 Monivong Boulevard, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Khan Daun Penh.

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