If you need any more proof of how much Cambodia has changed over the last decade, look no further than Seekers Spirits, Phnom Penh’s first artisan distillery, making premium gin distilled with local botanicals, and Juniper Gin Bar, serving gin-based cocktails (some featuring Seekers gin) at an elegant Phnom Penh rooftop bar. Finally, Phnom Penh has become a gin city!
Seekers was started last year by an English-Spanish couple, who hired Alfie Amayo, an English distiller living in London who was keen to move to Phnom Penh and work with local flavors and ingredients. He’s been here for almost two years now, and the result of his experimentation is sublime: a dry gin made with lemongrass, makrut lime, jasmine, green orange, pandan, Khmer basil, pomelo, galangal, coriander seed, palm seed, and cassia bark that is so smooth that Alfie invites visitors to the distillery to try it straight up, even on a morning visit like my own, when I happily stumbled across the bar during a visit to Toul Tom Pong.
Their tasting room is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and visitors are welcome to come in and try the spirits at no charge, although most tasters are quickly converted to customers, with bottles available on site in 700 ml bottles ($32), but also airplane-friendly 50 ml bottles ($5). And you will want to buy before you fly, because Seekers gin is currently only available in Cambodia and makes for an impressive addition to any gin aficionado’s liquor cabinet.
On the first Friday of the month they open the distillery up to have a craft cocktail night from 5 til 11 p.m., and on Saturdays they offer distillery tours at 4 and 5:30 p.m. that are approximately 45 minutes long. They also offer masterclasses by private appointment.
If you want to just cut to the chase, head to Juniper Gin Bar, a rooftop bar that offers up the perfect locale to enjoy a gin-based cocktail while soaking up the Phnom Penh sunset. Or, enjoy the sunset while soaking up a cocktail. Either way, visit around sunset and enjoy yourself. Which isn’t hard, when one has a glass of Seekers gin and tonic with makrut lime leaf garnish in hand.
From the same team behind Long After Dark and Sundown Social Club, Juniper Gin Bar has more than 20 types of specialty gins from around the world, as well as some less expensive old favorites.
In addition to the classic gin and tonic, they’ve got an array of both traditional (think negroni) and creative cocktails (something involving maraschino cherries) on the menu, as well as wine and draft beer for those who are being dragged along by a gin enthusiast, and perhaps don’t have a palate mature enough to appreciate the finer things on the Juniper menu.
Nonetheless, everyone is likely to leave happy, between the copious amounts of reasonably priced booze — $3 sunset cocktails from 5 to 7 p.m. daily including the Juniper Fizz, a concoction of gin, house-made curacao syrup, lime, and soda — the lovely sunset views of the ever-expanding Phnom Penh skyline, and wood-fired pizza straight from the oven.
Seekers Independent Spirits
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
80 Street 454, Toul Tom Poug, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)93 998 850
Juniper Gin Bar
Open daily, 4 to 11 p.m. (and often later on weekends)
The Point Hotel, 12th Floor
10 Street 130, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
+855 (0)86 445 901