Often I get asked what my favorite bars are. Even more often, I get asked by friends what the best bars are to go for cocktails. Is there a way to say which bar is the best?
Of course, it is very subjective. But the organization of the World's 50 Best Bar awards have found a way to objectify this as good as possible. Since 2008 they have organized the award show for the world’s best bar. A voting comity of 500 people from the spirit and bar industry get to vote for their eight favorite bars. The six hundred leading bartenders and bar owners from all over the world are invited to the award show each year.
If you go on a city trip, or want to know where to go for drinks in your own city, the World's 50 Best Bar list is the list to check. These are the things that stood out for me in 2017’s list.
The American Bar, London
I must start with the winner, of course. The best bar in the world in 2017. A bar with a rich history. Many classic cocktails have been invented here. Ask any bartender in the world about the American Bar in the Savoy and they will tell you about Ada Coleman inventing the Hanky Panky there in the early 1900’s. Or they will tell you about Harry Craddock, Ada Coleman’s successor, who wrote the iconic ‘Savoy Cocktail Book’.
Opened in 1903, the American Bar has had 10 head bartenders, ruling the stick. Head Bartenders at the Savoy are very loyal to the bar and well known and respected in the bartending world. The current head bartender is the 11th in line, Erik Lorincz. Of course, you can order the classics at this bar, but Erik and his team have made an impressive menu with their own classics. This menu takes you from ‘Coast to coast’. A well enjoyed journey across Britain from north to south. Which drink you choose, you will be sure to have a great drink and a great evening.
The one to watch! This is a bar that just opened and didn’t make it to the list yet, but will most probably do in the years to come.
Barcelona has a very up and coming cocktail scene. Where Boadas and Dry Martini bar are two classic bars in Barcelona that have been making great cocktails for decades, new bars like Paradiso are opening in a rapid pace. And they only make Barcelona even more interesting to visit when you are a cocktail aficionado. Paradiso is a speakeasy bar housed in a pastrami bar. This might sound a bit unusual, and that is exactly what Paradiso is. Unusual in the good sense of the word. The bar makes great drinks, often served in unexpected drinking vessels. This combined with a very laid-back atmosphere makes Paradiso the go-to bar in Barcelona.
Bols Genever has been involved in the World 50 Best Bar Awards since 2016. As one of the partners, we hand out a the 'One to Watch' award for the bar to watch in the next year. With his charming personality and feeling for entertainment, our master distiller Piet van Leijenhorst handed out the One To Watch award this year to Paradiso.
Singapore is coming!
My first experience with the Singapore bartending scene was at Singapore Cocktail Week in 2015. I was amazed by the amount of great bars, and the enthusiasm of the bartenders. All bars are in walking distance of each other and bartenders take things to the next level in Singapore. This is where bars like Native and my favorite bar in the world Operation Dagger, do groundbreaking work. They change the way bartenders look at cocktails worldwide. The dedication and open mindness with which they do it, amazes me each time I am there.
This year, Singapore is featured in the list with six bars! And rightly so. The iconic Manhattan bar is the highest ranked at 7. 28 Hong Kong street is one of the first Singapore bars to make it to the list and this year they are at number 25. Newcomer Atlas is only opened for eight months and enters the list at number 15! With over 1000 types of gin and of course Genever, this can truly be called a juniper heaven. Tippling club is the sixth bar from Singapore at number 31.
Singapore is the right up there with London and New York as leading cocktail industries and don’t be surprised if next year there will be even more bars from Singapore in the top 50. Bars like Gibson are knocking on the top 50’s door.
Tales & Spirits, Amsterdam
As a Dutch brand, we are very proud that for the third year in a row, this bar from Amsterdam is featured in the World's 50 Best Bar list. Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, in a building that was built in 1575, the same year the Lucas Bols company started, this bar is a consistent benchmark of quality. The immense creativity of the owners Boudewijn Mesritz and Lydia Soedadi together with their barteam shows in a cocktail menu full of drinks with an almost theatrical serve. Always good in balance and consistent in quality. Besides the great drinks, they also serve amazing food and a free bottle of water with each cocktail you order. When you are in Amsterdam, be sure to visit them!