From the soft sweetness of pandan to the earthy pungence of turmeric, Southeast Asian flavors shine at Khla, a new downtown Phoenix cocktail bar in Roosevelt Row.

“Knowing myself, I’m always going to put my culture on the map whenever I have the opportunity to do so,” said Tyka Chheng, co-owner of the bar, which shares space with newly opened Thai restaurant Lom Wong.

Khla, which means tiger in Khmer, is the latest project from Chheng, Colton Brock and John Sagasta, the team behind Baby Boy, a cocktail caravan parked nearby at the Pemberton. Chheng and Brock honed their bartending skills at restaurants around the Valley and Sagasta, a fixture in the downtown Phoenix dining scene, is the owner of Jobot Coffee & Bar.

From left: Colton Brock, Tyka Chheng and John Sagasta. The trio have partnered to bring Baby Boy, a cocktail camper, to downtown Phoenix.

Chheng moved to Phoenix in 2013 to cook at restaurants, but said he became disillusioned with the ego-driven kitchens of high-end restaurants. He became interested in mixing cocktails after a two-week bartending gig at Binkley’s and later went on to work as a bartender at Gallo Blanco, UnderTow and The Highball in Phoenix before starting Baby Boy.

“I say, and I can speak for a lot of bartenders, a little bit of our past always finds a way into the menu,” Chheng said. “There’s a little piece of every coworker I’ve worked with in the menu, grabbing palettes from different people I worked with in the past.”