Hotel Bars Sweep Top 4 Slots of The World’s 50 Best Bars
In what can be viewed as perhaps the dawn of a new era, powerhouse hotel bars in London and New York earned the top 4 slots on The World’s 50 Best Bars list. The American Bar (The Savoy Hotel, London) came in at #1, Dandelyan (Mondrian London) at #2, The NoMad (The NoMad Hotel, New York) at #3 and Connaught Bar (Mayfair, London) at #4. While the transatlantic duo dominated the heights, Singapore was right behind, besting San Francisco, Paris and Hong Kong. The list, now in its ninth year, salutes excellence in bar programs around the world.
The much-anticipated results were announced at a gala ceremony at London’s historic Southwark Cathedral that was attended by hundreds of top bartenders and drinks luminaries from around the world. Together, they celebrated their heroes, colleagues, mentors, and idols who raised the bar for the entire community. It was highlighted by a live countdown from #50 to #1 that was kicked off by William Drew, the Group Editor of William Reed Business Media Ltd., which owns and organizes the list, and is also behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The event was emceed by Tom Sandham, acclaimed UK drinks writer, and David Wondrich, the noted cocktail historian.
An Art Deco London Gem and a Majestic New York Temple
The American Bar at the Savoy, now the “World’s Best Bar,” is presided over by Head Bartender Erik Lorincz, and has graced London for more than 125 years with such iconic barkeeps like Ada “Coley” Coleman, Harry Craddock and Peter Dorelli. The bar exemplifies Art Deco swankiness and its menu draws inspiration from the UK’s various regions. The NoMad Bar, in addition to ranking #3, was proclaimed “Best Bar in North America.” Led by Beverage Director Leo Robitschek, this majestic libations destination caused a stir with its stunningly oversized and extravagant Cocktail Explosions. The fact that its food menu is by Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, crowned “World’s Best Restaurant,” is no doubt an added and delectable bonus.
Other Top 10 ranked bars include last year’s “World’s Best Bar” recipient, The Dead Rabbit (New York) at #5, The Clumsies (Athens) at #6, Manhattan (Singapore) at #7, Attaboy (New York) at #8, Bar Termini (London) at #9, and Speak Low (Shanghai) at #10. The World’s 50 Best Bars was initially part of William Reed Business Media and was amicably spun off. It came back into the fold late last year.
BlackTail, the Cuban-themed sister bar of The Dead Rabbit, earned the inaugural “Best New Opening Award” and #32 in the ranking. Other award recipients included Trash Tiki proponent Iain Griffiths (White Lyan and Dandelyan) for “Bartender’s Bartender,” Julio Bermejo (Tommy’s) for “Industry Icon,” El Paradiso (Barcelona) for “One to Watch,” and Black Pearl (Melbourne) for “Legend of the List.”
Lessons Learned from World’s 50 Best Restaurants
“We feel that we can bring a lot from what we’ve learned in restaurants in terms of the mechanics of voting, the security of the voting, and trying to make the list have as much integrity as possible,” said Drew. “At the moment, it still remains a relatively industry-known list that is very respected by bartenders and those in the business. I think we can extend it, while keeping that core, to become more of a reference for international travelers looking for the best bars around the world.”
The all-important ranking is the result of a polling of an academy of leading bartenders, drinks writers, and cocktail aficionados who hail from Europe (150), North America (115), Asia (110), Latin America (70), Australasia (30), and Africa & Middle East (30). This year, the number of judges was increased to 505 and the number of votes per judge was raised from 4 to 7.
“We do think that voters are going to go to quite a number of bars, and voting for their seven best bar experiences in the previous 18 months is valid, with at least three of those outside their home country,” said Drew. “That’s given us a stronger and more robust data set. It doesn’t radically change the list. We think it just improves it.”
In addition, the geographical apportioning of the number of judges is adjusted to reflect the evolving cocktail scene around the world, with Asia getting more judges this year to mirror its burgeoning drinks culture. Other factors such as overall population, number of outstanding bars, and the sophistication and penetration of the bar scene are also taken into account.
Words of Advice to Aspiring Bars
On the subject of how bars can make the list or improve their ranking, Drew advises, “You’ve got to follow your passion, follow your instinct, and not chase awards, rankings, or votes. By and large, those things don’t work. You’ve got to be true to yourself and then the interest will come. Communication is so fast around the world now that things don’t stay undiscovered for that long -- if they are good. You’ve just got to be as brilliant as you can be, with that individuality that sets you apart.”
Fine advice, indeed.