A scenic two-and-a-half-hour drive away from Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo, nestled unobtrusively within a coconut grove on the stunning Pehebiya Beach in Hiriketiya, is the island’s prized possession: Smoke & Bitters, a cocktail bar and smokehouse that has put this area on the global cocktail map. This bar is a tropical paradise that is popular with Sri Lankan locals and tourists alike for its easy-going vibe and great food and drink. The drinks programme is committed to championing the region and all it has to offer by staying focused on local spirits and ingredients, with house-made syrups and tinctures at the forefront of the cocktail menu. Its Silvertip White Negroni utilises Colombo gin, white tea vermouth and local Ceylon olive bitters to deliver the same bitter satisfaction one expects from the classic drink without the need for imported Italian bitters.
The bar, headed by two of Sri Lanka’s finest, Don Ranasinghe and Sameera Gayan, is testimony to Sri Lankan hospitality and warmth. The smokehouse menu is equally impressive and makes the place a weekend destination for many. In keeping with the island vibe, the decor is sustainable and full of island character, with coconut tree pillars holding up antique ceiling tiles and hand-drawn motifs batiked onto fabric and coated with resin to form the surface of the tables. Smoke & Bitters is the kind of place you’ll want to keep going back to for the food, the drinks, the sunsets and the smiles.