Ingredients for a good cocktail class are not just fresh and exciting produce, but ample tasting opportunities. Cycling home in a not-too-straight-line after the 90-minute class at Asana bar is a testament to the fact the lesson here didn’t fall short.
Following in the well-established footsteps of Cambodian cooking classes, of which there are many options, Asana adopts the same concept for Siem Reap’s first mixology masterclass. It’s held at the bar, a traditional Khmer wooden house done up to add style to the ambiance; this is a special venue to go for a drink even if you don’t take the class.
The lesson is very much Khmer themed and begins with sampling rice wine — thankfully not the hard liquor you get in the countryside, but flavoured spirit by Sombai rice wine (still 29% proof). It then moves on to an overview of Khmer herbs and spices like you would in a regular cooking class. Fresh galangal, green pepper, rice paddy herbs, kaffir lime and turmeric are among the basket of flavours we have a quick munch on before converting anything into liquid form. A concise leaflet outlines spices and their names in Khmer and has a notes section for jotting down the recipes.
The exact number of drinks you make might vary on group size, but as a party of two we make three in total – the first two are picked by our instructor, the last we choose from their list of Cambodian-inspired drinks. We begin with a ginger mojito and have fun scooping in the ginger juice, palm sugar, light and dark rum. Then we move on to a long drink, ‘Tamarind Sauce’. We are given ample time after making each to enjoy our cocktail creations as we go.
In order to sample a greater number of concoctions, for the third and final drink we choose different recipes from each other. Though you’re instructed what measures to use, there’s certainly flexibility to adapt and whack in a little extra if you’re looking for a more lively night out.
For $15 in a classier bar than average for Siem Reap, the class is fairly priced. Groups can also be catered for. The class starts at 17:30 so you’re already in the centre of town for dinner afterwards. Asana offers a short food menu, though many dining options are conveniently within strolling distance, with the bars Miss Wong’s and Yellow Submarine a matter of metres away if you’re looking to continue on with cocktails.