As the gintrification movement sweeps across the globe, it is creeping into Cambodia, with Tipico and its range of more than 50 gins at the forefront. Words by Marissa Carruthers; photography by Lucas Veuve.   

Gin has come on a long way from the stuffy confines of a colonial classic G&T.

Following in the footsteps of the craft beer movement, the fruit cider fad and craft distillery trend, it seems it’s gin’s turn to shine. And recent years have seen producers being more experimental in their offerings.

The result of this can be sampled at Tipico, where they take their gin seriously. So seriously that a Phnom Penh Gin Club is set to be launched this month, spear-headed by Tipico co-owner Tania Unsworth, who doubles up as a gin Encyclopaedia.

“People are interested in exploring the world of gin,” she says passionately. “And there is a world of flavours to be explored.”

While gin and tonic may have been invented by the British – troops based in India during the early 19th century came up with mix to make the quinine administered to prevent malaria more tolerable – it is the Spanish who gave it its modern make-over, dragging the drink into the 21st century.

In fact, it’s so popular that it has overtaken sangria as Spain’s national drink, with Spaniards priding themselves on elevating the cocktail by adding garnishes, botanicals and serving it in a copa glass [balloon-shaped wine glass].

“The large bowl shape ensures the drink stays cooler for longer and it really enhances flavour,” says Unsworth, who serves all G&Ts this way.

Boasting a bar stocked with more than 50 types of gin, Tipico’s drinks menu serves concoctions of all kinds. Split into six flavour profiles – juniper, citrus, floral, heat, spice and herbal – drinkers choose their preferred gin, whether they want to add Schweppes tonic ($1) or premium East Imperial ($2) and then up to two garnishes, including pomelo zest, apple, lime zest, lemongrass and cucumber.

“We have a premium collection of gins from across the world,” says Unsworth pointing to the shelves decorated with bottles of all colours, shapes and sizes. “The garnishes are added to enhance or contrast with the botanicals.”

On Unsworth’s recommendation, we start with the Sipsmith London Dry ($6.50) from the citrus group. Described as bitter sweet and pine fresh, it has soft floral notes, contrasted by the addition of dried orange and fresh sprigs of Kampot pepper, giving a cool kick.

Next up was a gin from the spicy profile in the form of Citadelle ($6.50). Bordering on hot, the garnishes of ginger and kaffir lime balance out the taste, creating a sharp, refreshing after bite – the perfect remedy to a sweltering Sunday afternoon.

While the gin options are seemingly endless, Tipico hasn’t left out the sangria, which is another popular drink with customers. Served with red or white wine, oranges and apples add a fruity punch, with the result being an easy-to-drink sangria that steers clear of being too sweet.

With plenty more gin-fuelled plans in the pipeline, it looks like Phnom Penh’s gin trend is just getting started.

80 Street 454, Phnom Penh.
Tel. 093 998 860.
Open daily from 11am to 11pm.