About the Academy

The World's 50 Best Bars Academy is the mechanism used to create The World's 50 Best Bars list. None of the employees of the organiser or any of the sponsors associated with the awards, including the main sponsor, has any influence over the results.

The Academy comprises 680 members, each selected for their expert opinion of the global bar scene. To create the Academy, and give it a fair representation of the international bar landscape, we divide the world into 28 geographical regions.

Each region has a chairperson appointed for their knowledge of their part of the bar world. These Chairs each select a voting panel, updated annually, ensuring a balanced selection of drink writers, bartenders and cocktail aficionados.

Learn more about how the voting works

The Academy Chairs

  • Hamish Smith

    Hamish Smith

    Senior Academy Chair for: UK and Ireland

    Smith is an award-winning drinks journalist, specialising in the bar industry. Based in London, he edits UK bartender magazine CLASS, works across sister title Drinks International as Bars Editor and is a former editor of The World’s 50 Best Bars. Over a 10-year career in drinks, Smith has established himself as a key commentator of the global bar industry. 

  • Alia Akkam

    Alia Akkam

    Academy Chair for: Hungary, Southern Europe and Northern Balkans

    A native New Yorker, experienced drinks journalist and self-confessed Europhile, Alia Akkam has called Budapest home since 2015. She is the former editor of Beverage Media and Hospitality Design, publications she continues to contribute to regularly, Akkam has an affinity for writing about cocktails and bars, as well as design, travel, food, and culture. Her work has appeared in outlets ranging from ArchitecturalDigest.com to Men's Health. In October 2020 she published Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktails from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels with Hardie Grant. 

  • Ara Carvallo

    Ara Carvallo

    Academy Chair for: Benelux

    Based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Carvallo has over 20 years’ experience in the bar and spirits sector. Today, she focuses her work on supporting drinks sector entrepreneurs creating the brands of the future. Carvallo is also the co-founder of Barra Mexico, the leading spirits tradeshow in Latin America and the first zero-carbon bar show in the world.
  • Arina Nikolskaya

    Arina Nikolskaya

    Academy Chair for: Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Baltics

    Nikolskaya is owner of Nomad Bar Show, the first ‘travelling’ bar show which launched in Kazakhstan in 2023. She was previously head of the Moscow Bar Show, which was the leading bar exhibition in Eastern Europe. A perfect mix of two of the world’s greatest drinking cultures – half-Irish and half-Russian – she is a leading figure in Eastern European bartending community. Nikolskaya regularly travels the world on the hunt for new ideas, speakers, techniques and inspiration to bring back to the vast region and to help deliver a unique experience to thousands of bartenders every year.
  • Bára Urbanová

    Bára Urbanová

    Academy Chair for: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland

    Czech editor and journalist Urbanová has almost 20 years' experience in food and drinks. From 2010 to 2015 she worked as editor-in-chief on Barlife magazine and in this capacity assisted in organsing the Prague Bar Show and Czech Bar Awards. Since 2015 she has been editor-in-chief and co-owner of online journal AtBars.com, which focuses its content on bars' business and related fields.

  • B.E Mintz

    B.E Mintz

    Academy Chair for: USA South

    Mintz is the Editor of Neat Pour, a daily publication for the beverage industry. Prior to Neat Pour, he founded and edited a community news source. When not travelling, Mintz can be found at home, in New Orleans, US, sipping on a Perfect Manhattan.

  • Brian Owango

    Brian Owango

    Academy Chair for: Africa East

    Owango is Kenya’s pioneer bartender. Credited with bringing the culture of modern mixology to Kenya in 2004, he has been integral in developing the industry via community development programmes, competitions and the Nairobi Cocktail Week. Currently, he runs a one-stop events company called Aqueous, based in Nairobi. He balances his time and energy in the hospitality world by teaching and practicing capoeira.
  • Charlene Rooke

    Charlene Rooke

    Academy Chair for: Canada West

    Charlene Rooke is a Canadian spirits journalist and educator. A WSET spirit educator, she also holds the prestigious SWE’s Certified Specialist of Spirits, trained in small-batch distilling at Kentucky’s Moonshine University and is the lead judge of the Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition. A former editor of magazines for Air Canada, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and other travel and hospitality brands, she is currently the Drinks Editor of Food & Drink, the in-store magazine of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (one of the world’s largest beverage alcohol buyers and retailers).

  • Chris Beaney

    Chris Beaney

    Academy Chair for: Africa West

    Based in Accra, Beaney has been a vital part of the Ghanaian bar and restaurant scene for the past nine years. He has over 20 years’ experience as an operator, manager, trainer and consultant for restaurants and bars in London and Africa, educating more than 200 staff in the art of bar craft. He has written articles for UK and US bar industry magazines, shining the light on the emerging hospitality scene in west Africa.
  • Christine Sismondo

    Christine Sismondo

    Academy Chair for: Canada East

    A National Magazine Award-winning writer, Sismondo has been writing about spirits, cocktails, bars, books and history for the Toronto StarGlobe and Mail, Maclean’s and other publications for over 20 years. She’s also the author of America Walks into a Bar: A History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops; Prohibition, a six-part podcast series for Wondery’s American History Tellers and, most recently, Cocktails: A Still Life. She lives in Toronto, Canada. 

  • Eleni Nikoloulia

    Eleni Nikoloulia

    Academy Chair for: Greece, Turkey and Southern Balkans

    Nikoloulia first studied political science before moving to work in lifestyle and travel magazines in her home country, Greece. From here, she developed a great passion for the bar sector and is now dedicated to great Martinis, creative mixologists and exceptional bars. She is the co-founder of non-profit civil partnership Metron Ariston: Making Responsibility a Trend; co-organiser of Athens Rum and Whisky Festival; co-organiser of Cyprus Cocktail Festival; and co-organiser of Aegean Cocktails and Spirits, a project that promotes Greek spirits through various activations, projects and festivals.
  • Emma Janzen

    Emma Janzen

    Academy Chair for: USA Midwest

    Emma Janzen is a James Beard Award-winning author, photographer, and one of the foremost authorities in cocktail writing in the USA. Her first book, Mezcal: The History, Craft and Cocktails of the World's Ultimate Artisanal Spirit, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award in 2018, and she has since co-authored the award-winning The Way of the Cocktail with Kumiko owner Julia Momosé (2021), and The Bartender's Manifesto with Toby Maloney of The Violet Hour (2022). Writing and editing from her home base near Chicago, she prefers her mezcal neat, her martinis made with gin, and her champagne served in a coupe.

  • Esther Tseng

    Esther Tseng

    Academy Chair: USA West

    Tseng is a Los Angeles-based writer who writes primarily about food, cocktails and culture. Among other publications, she predominantly contributes to The LA Times, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine. Originally from Wisconsin, she first started her food and cocktail blog 15 years ago, before becoming a freelance writer. 

  • Forest Collins

    Forest Collins

    Academy Chair for: France

    Cocktail expert Collins founded her blog 52martinis in 2007 to chronicle her search for the best cocktail bars in Paris and cover small-batch spirits news from France. She is the creator of iOS app Paris Cocktails and host of the radio show and podcast, Paris Cocktail Talk. As a freelance writer, she has written for Drinks International, Serious Eats and other gastronomic publications with a focus on the Paris cocktail scene. Collins regularly judges cocktail competitions and is President of the France chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a by-invitation philanthropic organisation for women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverages and hospitality. In 2024, she will release her book Drink Like a Local: Paris.

  • François Monti

    François Monti

    Academy Chair for: Spain and Portugal

    Monti is a Belgian, Madrid-based cocktail and spirits writer. He is the author of three books, including El Gran Libro del Vermut and 101 Cocktails to Try Before You Die. His writing has appeared in various publications across the world and he has led seminars at some of the largest global bar events, such as Berlin Bar Convent. He lives for a good seat at the bar.

  • Jakob Sundin

    Jakob Sundin

    Academy Chair for: Nordics

    Sundin began his journey as a bartender in 2004 and began to grow his passion for hospitality. He is most notable as the host and one of the founders of Bartenders’ Choice Awards, an awards programme dedicated to the Nordic bar community. Sundin currently stands as a managing partner of Purfict, which focuses on the development of the bar sector and cocktails through creative concepts, photography and events.
  • John Ng

    John Ng

    Academy Chair for: Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau

    Ng has managed bars, hotels and brands for over 15 years. A Hong Kong native, he was educated in Switzerland, before returning home via the UK and the US in 2008. In 2009, he supervised the highly regarded MO Bar in in Hong Kong, winning several awards at global bartending competitions. He followed this with a stint at leading whiskey brand, Michters, as Asia brand ambassador, before converting to magazine editorial, joining Tasting Kitchen, as director of wines and spirits.

  • Juliane Reichert

    Juliane Reichert

    Academy Chair for: Germany, Austria and Switzerland

    Reichert is a Berlin-based bar journalist with a passion for the people behind the bar and heavily peated whisky. Having studied philosophy, she's constantly seeking the big questions around the global bar scene and is an enthusiastic observer of trends. She is at the frontline of bars reporting in Germany and beyond.
  • Leah van Deventer

    Leah van Deventer

    Academy Chair for: Africa South

    While foremost a freelance drinks writer with bylines in Rumporter, Food24 and more, Deventer is also a director of the Protégé Bartender Programme, a convenor of the South African Rum Awards and a regular cocktail competition judge. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, she’s slurped her way through 40-odd countries in the name of research, accumulating various accolades long the way.

  • Nicholas Coldicott

    Nicholas Coldicott

    Academy Chair for: Japan

    Based in Tokyo since 1998, Coldicott is the author of Tokyo Cocktails and co-founder of artisanal sake exporters KuroKura. He has been a drink columnist for The Japan Times and CNN, an editor of Whisky Magazine Japan and Eat magazine, a judge for the World Whisky Awards, and a writer of guide books for Wallpaper* and Time Out

  • Pamela Wiznitzer

    Pamela Wiznitzer

    Academy Chair for: USA Northeast

    Since 2006, Wiznitzer has been working in NYC and across the globe to bring cocktail culture to life. She was nominated as one of the top 10 bartenders for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 American Bartender of the Year award and was named the 2014 Bartender of the Year by the Village Voice. She was named Food & Wine magazine's top 10 Rising Star Mixologists, is an inductee to the Dame Hall of Fame and was one of Wine Enthusiast magazine's 40 Under 40 in 2015. Her work has been featured in multiple publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Zagat, Glamour, Bloomberg and Esquire, and she features regularly on Food Network, Vh1, and NBC.

  • Penelope Vaglini

    Penelope Vaglini

    Academy Chair for: Italy

    A Milan-based food and beverage editor, Vaglini travels the world to experience the best restaurants and cocktail bars to tell their stories in L’Officiel Italia, ICON Magazine, Forbes and Gastronomika. She is the digital content coordinator for Robb Report Italia, as well as the co-founder of Coqtail Milano, the first Italian community focused on mixology, which also has an online magazine. A specialist in trend research, she edits annual reports analysing the food and beverage industry as well as writing features on the latest spirits news.
  • Pedro Reyes

    Pedro Reyes

    Academy Chair for: Mexico, Central America & Caribbean

    Reyes has been a contributor to the best lifestyle magazines in Mexico – Accent, Vuelo, Expansión, Life&Style, Chilango – while he carried out his role as Deputy Editor for Travel+Leisure Mexico for five years. He is the author of ¡Acá las Tortas!, a book about one of Mexico City's beloved street foods, as well as being a leading commentator on the city’s bar scene. Now, he is Creative Director at Paladar, a gastronomic marketing agency that creates events and experiences around Latin America’s food and drink scene.

  • Priyanka Blah

    Priyanka Blah

    Academy Chair for: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives

    Blah is the founder of The Dram Attic, a spirits and cocktail platform highlighting key bars and talent across the globe. She has spent the last decade discovering the world of cocktails through extensive travel, chronicling the evolution of the drinks industry from both sides of the bar, paying particular attention to guest experience and creativity. She has worked in several aspects of the F&B business, from operations to creative as well as global sales of craft spirits.

  • Rachel Tann

    Rachel Tann

    Southeast Asia & Korea

    Based in Singapore, Tann has led impactful marketing campaigns for some of the world’s most recognised spirits brands over the past decade. During her tenure at French spirits company Rémy Martin, she was part of the team that founded and led bartending competition La Maison Cointreau across Asia. She also launched and grew the global charity initiative Negroni Week into Singapore’s biggest spirits charity activation in just three years.
  • Rebecca Sturt

    Rebecca Sturt

    Academy Chair for: Middle East

    The regional marketing manager for Rémy Cointreau and Dubai Bartenders Club, Sturt has more than 25 years’ experience in the spirits and bar industry in a career that has spanned five continents. She has played a pivotal role in not only building concepts for global brands, but also in developing over 80 food and beverage concepts and training over 10,000 people, all the while developing the bar scene in the UAE.
  • Sam Bygrave

    Sam Bygrave

    Academy Chair for: Oceania

    Bygrave has worked in the drinks and bar industry for 20 years, as a bartender, a wine and spirits buyer, and today as a writer having spent eight years as editor of industry monthly Australian Bartender magazine. He has written for international publications Drinks International and The Spirits Business, among many others.


  • Sorrel Moseley-Williams

    Sorrel Moseley-Williams

    Academy Chair for: South America

    A freelance journalist and sommelier based in Argentina since 2006, Moseley-Williams writes about travel, food, wine and cocktails in Latin America. She contributes to Decanter, Monocle, Condé Nast Traveller and Traveler, American Way, Fodor's, Good Beer Hunting and Lugares in Spanish among others, and she penned Mil – the latest book from celebrated Peruvian chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León. She also created Dill & Tonic, a premium RTD cocktail line in Argentina.