Sora Bar at Rosewood, Phnom Penh, blends Cambodian flavors with Japanese folklore

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Soaring 37 floors above Cambodia’s vibrant capital and offering undeniably stunning aerial views, Sora at Rosewood Phnom Penh has revealed two imaginative new menus for its indoor bar and Whisky Library. Paying homage to two distinct Asian cultures, the drinks honor native Cambodian ingredients and are curated to tell stories of Japanese folklore.

In partnership with Proof Creative consultancy, the brainchild behind both menu concepts, the hotel’s indoor Sora Bar welcomes 12 nuanced and progressive cocktails to its portfolio. Divided into four chapters, each offers three beautifully-crafted drinks (including one non-alcoholic option) showcasing the complexities of a quintessentially Cambodian ingredient. The venue’s stylish and intimate Whisky Library offers six new whisky cocktails, each celebrating historical aspects of Japanese Samurai warriors.

Left to Right: God of the Seas, The Crow Collins, Shapeshifter

Sora Bar

A vividly illustrated menu begins our story, with a tribute to Cambodia’s high-quality rice. Influenced by the ferocity and strength of the Japanese dragon Tatsu, the God of the Seas blends brown rice-infused London Dry Gin with dry vermouth and rice vinegar, and is finished with a sea smoke spray. Elegant, dry and spirit-forward, the delicate rice notes lend a silky-smooth finish to this unique and smoky twist on a Dry Martini.

Our next featured character is the fabled Tanuki, a shape-shifting raccoon-like spirit known for its love of sweets – embodied in the rich and smooth Shapeshifter.The distinct caramel notes of this perfectly balanced cocktail come from Cambodian palm sugar and a fat-washing technique called ‘florage,’ which infuses Diplomático rum with cashew nut butter. The drink is then stirred with miso for umami and whisky for back-bone, and presented with a side serving of cashew nuts.

Sora Bar’s team

In Japanese folklore, Kitsune the fox grows more tails over time, imparting greater wisdom and ingenuity. This beloved creature inspires the complex and lively aperitivo-style Sora 75 – a twist on the classic champagne cocktail, French 75. The renowned Kampot Pepper takes center stage in its story. Globally revered as the world’s most aromatic pepper, it lends floral and spicy fragrances to this clean and refreshing drink. The vibrant concoction combines passionfruit with red Kampot Pepper aromatics, topped with sparkling sake and Kampot Pepper sugar dust as garnish.

Named for the legendary long-nosed winged Tengu, The Crow Collins infuses Plantation rum with banana flower to create a delicate, naturally pink concoction. The protective Pinocchio-like Mountain spirit provides both visual and sensory inspiration, with reverence to multiple aspects of the Cambodian staple – the banana. The drink celebrates the nuanced flavors of the entire banana plant, including leaves, flower, and fruit. This refreshing and dry Highball ends with a slightly bitter finish and notes of citrus from makrut lime.

Left to Right: Rosary, The Imperial

Whisky Library

A sophisticated space encompassing the widest selection of dark spirits in Cambodia, this cosy lounge boasts 24 varieties of fine cigars and exudes a rustic intimacy. Serving a whisky-based range of stirred, thrown, and built cocktails, the bar’s new menu unfolds as a personalized handwritten journal, paying tribute to the Tenka-Goken – the legendary five great swords of Japan. Thoughtful touches of symbolism include a diamond-shaped index reflecting the diamond pattern found on katana handle wrappings.

The Imperial is a light and earthy tipple featuring dry figs infused in Scotch whisky, plus Campari, Japanese umeshu, and a splash of ponzu. Named after the Imperial Museum which houses Onimaru – the Demon Sword – this cocktail is served on a metal tray with a bowl of figs.

The Rosary recalls the compelling Buddhist tale of the sword Juzumaru Tsunetsugu – a blade used not for war, but for peace – with a symbolic rosary wrapped around its hilt. Embodying the spirit of this lore, this take on the Japanese classic Highball features Westward Whiskey to bring a refreshingly dry finish to the drink, which is paired perfectly with a cigar.

Images: Rosewood Phnom Penh

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