A scenic 2.5 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. Smoke & Bitters 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, with tiki at its heart, is committed to championing the region and all it has to offer by staying focussed on local spirits and ingredients, with house-made syrups and tinctures at the forefront of the cocktail menu.
The bar, headed by one of Sri Lanka’s finest, Gilshan De Mel, 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.