The Voting System

The Voting System

Organised by William Reed, the people behind The World’s 50 Best Bars, The World’s 50 Best Hotels and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, North America’s 50 Best Bars is a snapshot of the opinions and experiences of 270 bar industry experts across the region.

What constitutes ‘best’ is left to the judgment of these trusted and well-travelled experts. The list is the result of a simple computation of votes. Given that this list is based on personal experiences, it can never be definitive, but we believe it is an honourable survey of current tastes and a credible indicator of the best places to drink in North America.

How the voting works

North America’s 50 Best Bars (and the awards ceremony hosted to celebrate the list’s unveiling) is organised and compiled by William Reed. 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 list is compiled by votes from the North America’s 50 Best Bars Academy, which comprises 270 drinks experts, including bartenders, bar owners, drinks media and well-travelled cocktail connoisseurs from Canada, USA, Mexico and the Caribbean, with 50/50 gender balance. 

The Academy is divided into seven regions: Canada East; Canada West; USA Northeast; USA Midwest; USA West; USA South; Mexico; and the Caribbean. Each region has its own panel of members including a chairperson, called the Academy Chair. The Chairs each then select a voting panel, ensuring a balanced selection.

Each voter casts seven votes based on their best bar experiences of the previous 18 months. In 2023, each North America Academy member can vote for a maximum of five bars in the country (or State in the US) where they are based. Voters also have the option to vote for a further two (or more) bars outside of their home country (or state) if they have been able to travel internationally during the voting period. Voters are required to remain anonymous and voting is confidential and secure.

The main rules of voting are:

  • Voting is strictly confidential
  • Panellists vote for seven bars, in order of preference
  • Voters must have visited the bars they nominate within the voting window
  • Voters are not permitted to vote for bars they own or have a financial interest in
  • Nominations must be made for the bar and not for the bar owner or bartender (except in the case of special individual awards)
  • Panellists cannot vote for a temporary bar, ‘pop-up’, or ‘guest shift’, or for a bar based on an experience that does not take place at the bar itself

These criteria are designed to allow our panellists to vote far and wide. They could vote for a small, unknown bar in a remote area of Mexico, or select the best-known venue in their own country or region – it is their opinion and the experiences they have had that matter.

This method means that bars cannot apply to be on the list, and cannot be nominated, and no external influences (from William Reed or our sponsors) can influence the list. It also means that every bar in the region is eligible, unless it is closed at the time that the list is announced, or we receive notice that it will be closing in the near future.

There are no criteria that a bar has to meet. They certainly do not have to sell a certain product. They do not need to have been open a certain number of years and they do not need to have won any other accolades.

Learn more about the North America’s 50 Best Bars Academy