Motorcycle-themed Hangar 44 is a great spot for expertly-mixed cocktails, or to pick up a vintage helmet. Words by Erin Hale. Photography by Enric Català.

Hangar 44The first thing you notice about Hangar 44 is the large, masculine motorbike suspended by heavy chains from the ceiling. It looms over the narrow bar that is otherwise decked out in dark metal and wood.

Together they give the impression that this watering hole is meant to be “manly”. Fortunately, Hangar 44 is located on Bassac Lane, not Riverside; and the motorbike on the ceiling is a classic, not a hog or a Harley.

While its masculine trappings might suggest a beer-only haven, Hangar 44 makes some of the best cocktails on vibrant Bassac Lane, which has been steadily building its reputation as the capital’s go-to evening hang-out spot, with a collection of eateries and boutiques rising in recent months.

And the motorbike? It was designed by Moto Cambodge, a custom motorcycle brand that uses the bar as a showroom. The bar’s menu is based on gin and rum-based cocktails of a bygone era, updated with a modern twist. Well-mixed without too much sugar and some creative touches, they are worth the price tag ($6) that comes with a more upscale bar.

The Hangarita is co-owner Uong’s interpretation of the margarita, using spicy tequila infused fresh watermelon margarita with Kampot sea salt on the rim.

Many of the drinks found chalked on the bar’s black walls are based on cocktails enjoyed by Uong on his world travels, or are his interpretation of classic staples, such as the Amaretto Sour – made with bourbon at for the Hangar 44 spin on the classic cocktail.

Take the Paper Plane: originally crafted by a New York barman in honour of British artist M.I.A.’s runaway 2007 hit single of the same name, it’s been tweaked to fit Hangar 44.

Bourbon, amaro liqueur, aperol, and lemon are blended into a satisfying cocktail served in a coupe glass that is sweet without being saccharine.

Uong adds his own flourish: a handmade origami paper plane adorns the rim of each cocktail.

Hangar 44’s menu extends further to beers, including Belgian Trappist ales, local beers, regional beers and draft beers, and even cigars.

“We hope to make our own custom beer, with our very own label. That’s what we’re focusing on doing in the next year,” says Uong.

This may be Uong’s first bar, but he has been in the food and beverage business since university – working his way up in San Francisco bars to floor manager and sommelier.

He’s obviously applied his skills at Hangar 44 to create a unique bar and showroom for everyone to enjoy.

44 Bassac Lane, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 085 232 137.
Open Wednesday to Saturday, from 5pm to midnight;
Sunday to Tuesday, from 5pm to 11pm.