Too often you arrive in a foreign city and you’re not sure where you should retire to for a late night beverage. The hotel concierge often recommends somewhere safe and fairly innocuous but you want something a little edgier. Somewhere the locals, who usually drag you to the local faux-Irish pub or franchised Bavarian taphouse, will be impressed by, and may even compliment you on your local knowledge.
As luck would have it, Drinks International recently announced the much anticipated World’s 50 Best bar Awards in London, listing the world’s best bars strewn across 19 countries and 27 cities. It was no surprise that this year’s top 10 bars were almost exclusively in the cosmopolitan confines of London and New York but there were a few outliers with even Australia picking up three gongs and being acknowledged as the world’s third best country for bars behind the US and UK.
Beyond the top three countries, Shanghai’s Speak Low is the first to make it on the list from the city and Beirut’s Central Station is Lebanon’s debut on the list.
Lunch Magazine has browsed 2016s world’s best bars and summarised a quick selection for globetrotting tipplers, based on our own personal experiences as well as places where we would like to end a solid night out.
The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog, New York
Crowned number one is The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog perched in New York’s financial district. The bar pulls off an unexpected mélange – sophisticated cocktail service meets Irish tavern tradition. Fans of Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York will recognize the Dead Rabbit reference as owners Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry have paid homage to the legendary 1850s Irish-American gang, the Dead Rabbits.
The Baxter Inn, Sydney
An intimate whisky bar tucked in an alleyway off Clarence Street, sits the Baxter Inn. Down an office fire escape stairs and behind an unassuming unmarked door lies a dimly-lit haven for whisky enthusiasts with an extravagant display of 630 whisky bottles backing the bar. Baxter Inn was ranked 12th in this year’s list and awarded ‘Best Bar in Australasia’.
Santé was sung in unison while glasses clinked at Candelaria following the announcement of their 17th place listing. The Latin American inspired bar offers an extensive menu of creative cocktails featuring a ‘Pisco disco’. Yet what’s more exciting is drinks can be paired with some of France’s best Mexican cuisine served from the open kitchen where specialties include creamy guacamole to crunchy tacos topped with carne asada.
High Five, Tokyo
The well-established High Five has been sitting on the list for five consecutive years. This time the Tokyo bar is ranked at 23. Bar owner Hidetsugu Ueno is known for his meticulous carving of diamonds from a block of ice. For the ladies, they may not be Chopard’s ‘Happy Diamonds’, but Ueno’s prized cocktails and their floating “diamonds” are immediately satisfying.
Speak Low, Shanghai
The bar placed in 15th making it the first Shanghai bar in the world’s top 50. Speak Low is known for their alcoholic blends with a fusion of tantalising Asian aromas including tequila-shisho shots and sherry with a dust of matcha powder and roasted soy bean. The four-storey building is arranged with a unique theme per level: from an underground New York basement concept on the ground floor, to a more exclusive Parisian affair on the fourth floor – featuring a 1920s organ, dark gothic chandeliers and a premium whisky collection.
The Clumsies, Athens
Ranked in 9th place is the Clumsies, which is the only bar outside London and New York featuring in the top 10. The bar is known for its experimental take on traditional cocktails. The El Draque is the bar’s reinvented Mojito – quirkily served with a toothbrush, fresh mint and apple.
Manhattan Bar, Singapore
‘Best Bar in Asia’ was awarded to Manhattan Bar in Singapore with its 19th century Golden Age inspired décor. The hotel bar at the Regent offers a sleek and sophisticated setting for Singapore’s affluent and a serious collection of ingredients in the world’s first in-hotel rickhouse.
American Bar, London
The American Bar at the Savoy London is ranked second place in the world, and earns the title as ‘Best Bar in Europe’. Another nine bars in the city made the top 50 but it’s the American Bar which remains a paean to retro glamour. The Savoy Cocktail Book was distilled from the mind of former bartender Harry Craddock in the 1930s and the bar is still renowned for its ever-changing menu and stylishly themed concoctions.