Bong Bong BongCombining music, art, fashion and drinks, Bong Bong Bong is pleasing punters at Street 240 ½. Writer Jessica Tana and photographer Lucas Veuve put the bar to the test.

An innocuous opening on Street 240 leads to a graffiti covered alleyway. Venture a little further down Street 240 ½, and there’s a small bar lit by kerosene lamps flickering in the darkness.

Taking a seat at the table – a large, upcycled drum –, we quickly realise the music wafting through the steamy night air comes from within a vintage clothing shop to the left.

Congratulations, you’ve found Bong Bong Bong – a bar, store front, art studio and tattoo parlour all in one.

When the vintage clothing store closes at 6pm, the cash register is replaced with bottles of spirits, and benches are set up along the alleyway. A range of beers and cocktails can be had while enjoying the chilled out hip hop or 1970s folk/rock. The atmosphere is intimate, casual and seriously cool.

“We are four people with four different concepts coming together,” says Jerome Chifumi, co-owner and local graffiti artist.

His bright, Cambodian-inspired artwork adorns the walls at Bong Bong Bong and he has even designed limited edition Samai Gold Rum bottles ($60).

Co-owner Nicolas Avril says they wanted to make a quality bar that was cheaper than most places in the area. With cocktails starting at $3 and not passing $5, they seem to have achieved just that.   

Starting with one of the signature cocktails, the English Garden is a gin and tonic made with cucumber, lime and mint leaf. The cucumber is juiced and added to the Bombay Sapphire and tonic, giving a refreshing hit of flavour. Stiff and lingering, the G’n’T has a cool, cucumber taste, but was a little overpowering on the mint and lime.   

Ti Punch ($3) is a rum, lime and sugar cane concoction. Based on an old West Indies recipe, the Saint James rum adds a caramel thickness to the saccharine sugar cane, but is offset by a strong kick to the jaw of lime. The sensation is both rousing and robust.

To round out the cocktail list, the Pina Colada ($3) adds a softer touch. Made with rum, pineapple, vanilla sugar, coconut cream and condensed milk, it was sweet and creamy. The cinnamon stick in the glass was a nice touch, both in presentation and flavour.

“We have plans to change the cocktail menu every month, depending what fruit will be in season,” Avril says.

There are also plans in motion to put up a roof and add some more tables and chairs. The bar also serves a selection of beers and spirits, as well as, Jaya, a palm sugar liquor made by vintage shop owner, Valentin Hay’s uncle. “We all bring something to the place,” Chifumi says. Each personality brings their own touch to Bong Bong Bong, making the establishment a fantastic union of art, style, friendship and flavour.

Street 240 ½, Phnom Penh.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, from 5pm to 11pm.