Dec 9, 2021
CHEERS, GUYS! A TOTAL OF 18 BARS across Asia-Pacific have made it onto the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars, with Coa in Hong Kong scooping the crown in Asia and Singapore leading the heap in numbers.
It’s been a tough time for the bar industry, with lockdowns, booze bans and other pandemic-fueled restrictions limiting business across the globe. But celebrations were high this week when the 13th list of The World’s 50 Best Bars was announced at a glittering in-person ceremony in London (after a Covid-19 virtual event last year). So, it was a sweet hometown victory for the two London establishements that went one-two: Connaught Bar and Tayer+Elementary.
Bringing a taste of Mexico to Hong Kong has proved a hit for cocktail king Jay Khan, the owner of Coa. Since opening its doors in 2017, it’s been lauded with gongs. Highest New Entry 2019: check. Best Bartender of 2020: check. Now, Best Bar in Asia and seventh in the world!
Named after the Mexican tool used to harvest agave (coa), the hippest spot in Hong Kong hippest hangout pays homage to two of the country’s most famed spirits: mezcal and tequila. In fact, not only are Jay’s shelves stocked with an incredible 200 bottles, and has visited every distillery on the list so he can give tasting notes and insider tidbits on everything he’s serving.
Khan and the Coa team also proved they have a heart as, while Hong Kong lockdowns and heavy restrictions hampered business, throughout 2020 they ran their Mezcal Mission. This saw all cash raised selling cans of signature cocktail, La Paloma de Oaxaca – a grapefruit-spiked mezcal and tequila blend – donated to a local homeless charity.
Yet, it was another Asian island-state that walked away with the overall global cocktail crown. Racking up six spots in the top 50, Singapore has more of the best bars than any city in the world in 2021. Jigger & Pony lost its title of best bar in Asia but secured ninth in the world and best in Singapore. Gilded Manhattan bar in the Regent Singapore, which won the Art of Hospitality Award among the 2020 World’s 50 Best Bars, slipped this year to 15th place, followed by 1920s-inspired Atlas at 16. Singapore also saw two newcomers enter the 50 Best Bars list: rising star No Sleep Club at 26 and stylish MO Bar at 36. Tippling Club made a comeback, re-entering at 43.
Hong Kong residents have more to smile about than being able to visit Asia’s best bar, with two more venues making the final cut. Rosewood’s jazz bar, Darkside, secured a new entry at 49 and Quinary cocktail bar in Central just made the cut at 50. Shanghai scooped all three of mainland China’s entries: Sober Company at 39 and new entries Epic and Union Trading Company at 41 and 48 respectively.
The Japanese capital of Tokyo stole two spots: jazz-fueled SG Club (18) and apothecary-themed Bar Benfiddich remained on the list (32). Over in South Korea, Seoul speakeasy Charles H impressed judges and climbed seven places to 42.
Australia boasts a list of strong contenders, with Sydney home to three bars that made the cut. Art Deco-styled Maybe Sammy (22) walked away with the title of Best Bar in Australasia. Other bars to check out are Cantina OK! (23) and Re was a new entry (46).
Re and its founder, UK expat Matt Whiley, had something extra to celebrate as it secured a double whammy and also won the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award. Opened in early 2021, Re is one of the best bars in the world for the world — by which we mean, it’s a pioneering, boundary-pushing no-waste cocktail revolution. Reduce, reuse, recycle is its slogan and every inch of the venue boasts some form of sustainable design. Melbourne also secured a place on the list with Above Board (44).
As with the rest of its lists, the group behind 50 Best Bars has also ranked the top 51-100, and in 2021 that broader listing includes the brand-new Argo and eco-imbibers Penicillin in Hong Kong, Tropic City and BKK Social in Bangkok, and sundry others in Asia.
The overall winning spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars 2021 list went to London’s Connaught Bar. So, next time you’re in the English capital, step into the Cubist-inspired bar and take advantage of its Martini trolley experience and let your personal bartender tend to your every last need.
Here’s the complete list of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2021:
11. Two Schmucks: Barcelona, Spain
12. Hanky Panky: Mexico City, Mexico
13. Insider Bar: Moscow, Russia
14. Baba au Rum: Athens, Greece
15. Manhattan: Singapore
16. Atlas: Singapore
17. Zuma: Dubai, UAE
18. The SG Club: Tokyo, Japan
19. Drink Kong: Rome, Italy
20. 1930: Milan Italy
21. Presidente: Buenos Aires, Argentina
22. Maybe Sammy: Sydney, Australia
23. Cantina OK!: Sydney, Australia
24. Salmon Guru: Madrid, Spain
25. Handshake Speakeasy: Mexico City, Mexico
26. No Sleep Club: Singapore
27. Camparino in Galleria: Milan, Italy
28. Café La Trova: Miami, USA
29. Little Red Door: Paris, France
30. Dante: New York, USA
31. Kwant: London, UK
32. Bar Benfiddich: Tokyo, Japan
33. Tres Monos: Buenos Aires, Argentina
34. Attaboy: New York, USA
35. Lucy’s Flower Shop: Stockholm, Sweden
36. MO Bar: Singapore
37. Sips: Barcelona, Spain
38. Baltra Bar: Mexico City, Mexico
39. Sober Company: Shanghai, China
40. Tjoget: Stockholm, Sweden
41. Epic: Shanghai, China
42. Charles H: Seoul, South Korea
43. Tippling Club: Singapore
44. Above Board: Melbourne, Australia
45. Galaxy Bar: Dubai, UAE
46. Re: Sydney, Australia
47. Sidecar: New Delhi, India
48. Union Trading Company: Shanghai, China
49. Darkside: Hong Kong, China
50. Quinary: Hong Kong, China
Photos source: The World’s 50 Best Bars.