Sundown Social Club brings the flare of Miami to Russian Market, complete with tiki cocktails and Astroturf. Words by Erin Hale; photography by Enric Català.
Sundown Social Club is best enjoyed – as the name suggests – at sunset, with views overlooking Russian Market. Situated on the top floor of an apartment building that skirts the busy phsar, it offers a sweeping view of the market’s tin rooftops and the busy street scenes below. It’s a great spot to hit after work, with a specialty tropical cocktail in hand for Phnom Penh’s golden hour.
Aussie bar owners Nathan Headlam and Brendan McCarthy have worked hard to create a unique and relaxing atmosphere with strong Miami vibes circa 1980, with the beach view swapped out for something a bit grungier.
The retro tropical feel starts with the pink flamingo logo, emblazoned in neon lights above the bar, and extends through the cocktail list to the wicker furniture and Astroturf flooring. They’ve streamlined out the kitsch though, so overall the bar feels fresh and modern rather than an homage to Scarface.
It’s a very different vibe to what’s on offer at Headlam and McCarthy’s other nearby venue, Long After Dark. At Sundown Social, they’ve swapped the whiskey and dark wood for tiki cocktails and rum made with fresh fruit ingredients.
One of the best examples is the piña colada ($5.75), a frothy cocktail that comes served in a fresh hollowed-out pineapple. It’s sweet without being treacly, much like the banana daiquiri ($4.75). While the term “daiquiri” often evokes a fruity frappe drink, this version comes shaken and served straight up in a cocktail glass. The house cocktail list is rounded out with a mai tai ($5), rum Rangoon ($6) and the Zombie ($6.75), a shaken rum cocktail with several varieties of fruit juice and a dash of grenadine and apricot liquor.
The most popular drinks, may be the cocktail jugs ($14) which serve four glasses. They come in three varieties for now – tequila, peach ice tea, lychee gin, and a classic Pimm’s – Headlam says the bar plans to expand the line to eight varieties. While less strong than the flagship cocktails, they still offer a refreshing fruity drink.
The after-work crowd will also be happy to find a small food menu for sharing. Designed with street food favourites in mind, it includes tasty fish tacos ($5.50 for two) that come battered and lightly fried, with a spicy chipotle sauce in a tortilla. Other main dishes include the grilled pork and vermicelli noodles ($4.75) and the barbecued pulled-jackfruit burger with fries ($5).
Open just a few weeks, Sundown Social still has limited hours but Hedlam and McCarthy want the bar to be a late afternoon and evening spot rather than a late-night venue. While the bar opens at 5pm, check Facebook in the coming months as they plan to open at noon once operations are fully rolling.