High above the Phnom Penh bustling chaos at 37 floors, with a breathtaking view of the city –is Sora. The newest sky bar to city, this bar and lounge is part of the luxurious Rosewood Hotel located on the top floors of Vattanac Tower. Hidden near the entrance of the sky terrace, is the notorious Whiskey Library. A place where whiskey lovers can partake in a selection of rare liquors and smoke a smooth cuban cigar while in the lap of of luxury.
The Whiskey Library came from a concept for whisky place for gentlemen to enjoy cigars, says bar manager Daniele Cervi. “Much like a speakeasy for gentlemen, you can enjoy whiskey by the glass or have a nice classic cocktail like our signature cocktail — all while choosing from our big selection of cigars (all imported from cuba),” Cervi claimed. “We try to offer an exclusive night for when you want to get out from the busy Phnom Penh streets and where you can feel privacy, but at the same time experience a five star hotel.”
The 26-year- old Italian has drawn from his experience bartending from around the world, to create the collection of rare whiskeys and an apothecary of cocktails for the library. The wide collection holds a wide variety of whiskeys, with almost a 100 labels and a little over a dozen of the world’s finest cuban cigars. Some whiskey collectors can also discover prized bottle in the selection. One of which, is the Brora 34, a spirit that Cervi claims is highly sought after since it’s scottish distillery had ceased production. The whiskey made in 1982, has less than 3,000 bottles in the world.
Since travelling to some of the most renowned speakeasies and bars in Italy, London and Dubai, Cervi’s goal has been to bring a taste of that world to Phnom Penh. “There are many whiskey bars in the country, but there is no soul,” Cervi said with a smile. “There is something amiss.”
Two of his favorite Cambodian inspired cocktail creations are the Kampot Sour and the Rum Goblet. The Kampot sour is a whisky sour but with a twist of the famous Kampot peppers and a complementary honey syrup. “Its refreshing,”Cervi explained. “Much like Rosewood — it is a sense of place, a sense of taste. A concept we wanted to bring into our drinks and menus.”
Entranced by the fragrance of a pepper plantation while in Kampot, Cervi couldn’t resist the lushness of the spice and decided to create something local. “People love it. It’s a nice twist of a classic — still refreshing but with this intense spiciness at the end — I love it as well.”
The Rum Goblet is a pretty cocktail, says Cervi. Stemming from the intricate glassware, Cervi took a classic cocktail idea and adds a twist of local tropical fruit of guava and pineapple with a splash of peach liqueur. Adding a bit of bitters and lavender, the drink is finished with a spray of the notoriously hallucinogenic absinthe — to invoke the senses. “It is a surprise when you taste it,”Cervi claims. “ When you smell it, you think it is herbal, but it tastes of the fruits’ sweetness and sourness.”