Another month, another list—this time, it’s the World 50 Best Bars. Brought to you by the same people behind the World 50 Best Restaurants series, you can be sure that there will be lovers and haters—how could a small fraction of the world declare what is ‘best’ across the globe?—but what it does offer is an interesting cross-section of what is deemed to be ‘of the moment’ through the lens of 500 drinks professionals and imbibers. It’s worth noting, also, that out of the 500, more than half are based in Europe and North America.
So onto this year’s list, which was announced on October 5 in London. Among the crowned, you’ll have to sift through 8 pages before you get to the highest ranking Hong Kong bar—the much-lauded Quinary on Hollywood Road, coming in at a respectable #40. It fares better than Lobster Bar, which just scrapes by at position #49.
Both are very good bars. I myself am a big fan of the blend of classic cocktails and regular roster of guest mixologists over at the Shangri-La’s signature watering hole (and my fondness for the spot remains, even after one of their former bartenders—the inimitable Agung Prabowo, now at The Old Man—decided that whisky shots were going to be a good idea on a Wednesday night). But VEA Lounge (another Antonio Lai joint) is, in this writer’s opinion, the more intriguing bar—perhaps not enough of these roving judges have managed to pay a visit yet—and deserving of an entry. As of today, it hasn’t even made it onto the top 100.
There is one thing I agree with, however—in Asia, Singapore’s bar scene is miles ahead of ours. At #47, there’s Vijay Mudaliar’s Native—an incredible bar focused on regional spirits, and one we profiled as part of our zero waste mixology feature this summer—that is quite unlike anything we have at the moment. Atlas, the over-the-top gin palace that opened in Singapore’s “Gotham building” earlier this year, has already sprung straight to #15—and I’m all for it. Then there are the likes of Manhattan, Operation Dagger, 28 Hongkong Street and Tippling Club.
Hong Kong’s bar scene has been stepping up this year, though. One to watch? My money’s on The Old Man for 2018.
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