The list of The World's 50 Best Bars 2020, sponsored by Perrier, was revealed on Thursday, 5th November via an online awards ceremony, aiming to bind the community even closer together and provide positive news for bars as they enter the next stage of recovery from the global pandemic.
The 12th edition of the annual ranking features bars from 23 countries, including ten new entries and four re-entries, and provides a snapshot of the world's greatest cocktail venues according to the votes of The World's 50 Best Bars Academy.
Visit The World's 50 Best Bars website for the full profiles of the bars and take a tour of the 50 award-winning cocktail destinations below
1. Connaught Bar
It’s hard to think of a bar anywhere in the world that has made excellence so effortlessly routine as Connaught Bar. This Mayfair hotel bar’s trick is it isn’t trend-chasing and flash; under the stewardship of Ago Perrone, Giorgio Bargiani and Maura Milia, it evolves from one
year to the next, always delivering with poise and studied purpose. It’s been knocking on the door for a number of years, but 2020 sees Connaught Bar a vindicated winner of The World’s Best Bar and The Best Bar in Europe, sponsored by Perrier.
New York, USA
With more than a century of memories, Café Dante is an ode to New York hospitality past – but also its future. Its clean white tiles and Italian styling frame a buzzing all-day atmosphere – the sort of place that fits the times: you’d pop by for a coffee, be seduced by the pasta and then find yourself making your way through the expertly embellished list of Negronis. Dante is the Best Bar in North America 2020, sponsored by Asahi Super Dry.
3. The Clumsies
Though now a powerhouse of the global bar community, fame never changed The Clumsies. This is the bar that always put the important things first – the quality on the plate and in the glass, never forgetting the warm Athenian hospitality. Set in a townhouse downtown, The Clumsies is homely, with friendly, joyous vibes freely flowing through the building.
Upon entering Atlas, you’d be forgiven for thinking Batman might be lurking. After all, Parkview Square building is modelled after western-style Art Deco hotels and is commonly referred to as Gotham. With a list of more than 1,300 gin labels, the bar's moniker as the best spirits collection in the world is well deserved, but head barman Jesse Vida’s drinks collection is also a force to be reckoned with. Where else would you rather spend the day than in The Best Bar in Asia, sponsored by Rémy Martin?
5. Tayēr + Elementary (New Entry)
This eagerly anticipated venue from bartending super group Monica Berg and Alex Kratena landed in 2019, meeting, even exceeding, expectations. A bar of two parts, Elementary is the easy-going space you’ll first step foot in, with floor-to-ceiling windows welcoming you in from Old Street. Behind the concrete partition is Tayēr, where things get more serious. Centred by a large square bar, this is the cocktail boutique where creativity knows no bounds. After landing in the list at a higher position than all other new entries this year, Tayēr + Elementary is the Disaronno Highest New Entry 2020.
Kwānt is a derivative of quaint; and isn’t this bar just? One foot into Erik Lorincz’s venue and you’re transported to another time, another clime. Continuing the journey from Moroccan restaurant Momo upstairs, Kwant puts you bar-side with Humphrey Bogart in the 1940s classic Casablanca, just with exquisite cocktails and a lot more colour. Kwānt is the winner of the London Essence Best New Opening Award 2020, given to a bar with the highest position in the list that has opened in the past 18 months.
7. Florería Atlántico
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Florería Atlántico is a speakeasy, but not as you know it. There’s the expected nondescript door, sure, but it’s hidden beneath a florist – also owned by the dynamic hospitality industry duo Aline Vargas and Renato Giovannoni. This is a cosmopolitan sort of basement bar, attracting a fun-loving Buenos Aires crowd to the old docks of the Argentinian capital. Once again Florería Atlántico is named The Best Bar in South America, sponsored by iichiko Saiten, and its mastermind Giovannoni the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender 2020.
Hong Kong, China
Mexicana drinking den Coa is a shrine to all things agave. Inspired by owner and hospitality hero Jay Khan’s trips to Mexico, the bar is named after the axe-like tool used to harvest the plant used to make the spirit. Coa’s collection of over 180 hand-crafted spirits includes tequila, mezcal, raicilla, sotol, bacanora, charanda and a variety of pechuga mezcal, from turkey breast to lamb leg distilled. Coa is also the winner of the Nikka Highest Climber 2020, after a meteoric rise from 49th in 2019 to 8th place in this year’s ranking.
9. Jigger & Pony
Recently crowned the No.1 in Asia’s 50 Best Bars, Jigger & Pony has gone from strength to strength since its venue shift almost two years ago. The past year saw a well-curated programme of guest shifts by other world-class mixologists such as Ryan Chetiyawardana and new cocktail menus, combined with the winning combination of a convivial atmosphere, fun vibes and professional service.
10. The SG Club
The SG Club is really four bars in one. The team has been busy in 2020, launching a trio of own-brand shochus designed for cocktails, revamping the menus to spotlight those new spirits, and at a time when flying abroad was all but impossible, launching SG Airways, a cocktail-pairing dinner event that takes guests on a whirlwind round-the-world gastro-tour, complete with boarding passes for menus.
11. Maybe Sammy
Each new visit to Maybe Sammy brings surprise. That surprise might arrive in the statuette form of a flamingo while you’re sipping on one of the best Martinis you’ve ever tasted (surreptitiously placed by a bartender when your back was turned); it might be when they break out the bubble gun for some mid-shift hijinks. Maybe Sammy also picked up the inaugural Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award and is The Best Bar in Australasia, sponsored by Torres Brandy.
New York, USA
Now all grown up, Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy’s Attaboy would make its poppa proud. It rose from the ashes of Milk & Honey New York – the most important bar of the second golden era of cocktail culture – in 2013, taking the best bits of service and drinks execution but leaving the formality in the past.
13. Nomad Bar
New York, USA
Taking its name from the mid-town New York neighbourhood Nomad, this hotel is a modern interpretation of luxury – here, food and drinks are centre stage. Under the direction of Leo Robitschek, Michael Smoley and Julia Reingold, the latest menu sees favourites such as Start Me Up and the Walter Gibson retained but plenty of new entries from the Nomad’s repertoire of whimsical drinks wizardry.
Set on the second floor of the plush Regent Hotel, Manhattan is the Asian hotel bar in recent times to bring the sexy. For those unfamiliar, this was the first hotel bar to have an on-premise rickhouse where it keeps solera-aged libations as well as special barrelled cocktails created in conjunction with visiting guest bartenders as part of its Friends of Manhattan series.
15. The Old Man
Hong Kong, China
As its moniker alludes, The Old Man is a tribute to author and renowned imbiber Ernest Hemingway. Tucked away at the foot of an unassuming stair, this bantam-sized bar packs heavyweight-grade punches with top-notch hospitality and a convivial spirit thanks to the layout of the bar counter, which removes barriers between bartender and guest although now with Covid measures in place, of course.
16. Katana Kitten
New York, USA
A Japanese-inspired American dive bar named after a Samurai sword and a cat? Yes, that’s Katana Kitten – it probably shouldn’t work, but it most certainly does, not least because this is no thrown-together concept. It’s the embodiment of its owner, the loveable Japanese New Yorker Masahiro Urushido, who built on his home-honed skills by earning his stripes in some of the Big Apple’s best venues.
17. Licorería Limantour
Mexico City, Mexico
How things have changed since Limantour first opened its doors in 2011. Much like their delicious Margarita al Pastor (spiced up with a ‘taco mix’), the secret is in the blend: a party bar that is snug enough to make you feel at home if you just want a quiet one, warm service and great, inventive drinks that remain familiar enough to please both discerning and casual drinkers. Just like Mexico City, Limantour contains — and pleases — the many.
A champion of regional and local ingredients, Native is about to celebrate its fourth birthday and continues to be hyper-relevant and creative. Its selection of Asian-produced spirits has grown significantly and the upstairs lab is increasingly responsible for new and popular concoctions. The focus on all things local means the team forage at every opportunity, but they are also huge advocates of zero waste.
Paradiso is a feast for the eyes. From the speakeasy-inspired entrance through a pastrami bar refrigerator, to the Dali-esque carved and curved wooden interior to the cocktails – take your seat at the bar at Paradiso and prepare for the show. So behold, cocktails that change colour, that change taste, that are guillotined in front of you, that you can’t even find… drinking cocktails has never been so much fun.
20. American Bar
Although the American Bar took a break in 2020, you could say it was well earned. The Savoy’s flagship bar is the longest-surviving cocktail bar in the UK, having served up its ‘American-style drinks’ since 1893. Its reputation as a landmark of cocktail history is down to its legendary bartenders – historic figures such as Harry Craddock and Ada Coleman among them – and the fact that this building is the home of countless classics, the Hanky Panky and White Lady to name two.
The pandemic could not stop Carnaval. During lockdown, Aaron Diaz, the creative mind behind the only Peruvian bar ever to wind up in The World's 50 Best Bars, designed an alternative way to deliver his bar magic: a cocktail box with all the ingredients to assemble drinks at home (ice included). They were fun and interactive: cocktails that evolve when the spirits mingled with unusual citric and roots.
22. Salmón Gurú
Destination bars are like trends: they’re meant to last until the next big thing comes along. And yet Salmon Guru has been Madrid’s destination bar for four years now. Maybe it’s for the quirky drinks, bursting — sometimes quite literally — with flavours and served in eye-catching custom glassware. Or the elegant interior, running the gamut from 1950s tropical to comics lounge and Hollywood opium den.
23. Zuma (Re-Entry)
Though Zuma is a global hospitality brand, there is something individual about Zuma Dubai. Any night of the week expect crowds – this bar throbs under its popularity, yet the drinks and service never suffer. As its leader, Jimmy Barratt – celebrating 12 years with the bar in 2020 - says, Zuma Dubai is “craft cocktails, on steroids”. Thoughtful, delicious but still fast and furious – that’s Zuma Dubai of today. Zuma is The Best Bar in The Middle East and Africa 2020, sponsored by Matusalem.
24. Little Red Door
Little Red Door is something of a bon vivant bar – fine spirits and free spirits mix freely in this cosmopolitan, artistic Parisian hideout. The glowing red door, which marks the frontage and lends the bar its name, is one of the permanent fixtures of a place otherwise defined by reinvention. Take the cocktail Chili Without Spicy, which harnesses a habanero distillate and embellishes the often-overwhelmed floral, green and grassy notes of the chili. Intriguing and smart – that’s Little Red Door.
Milan is not only a fashion hotspot, it’s been the Italian capital of modernist cocktails for a good 20 years. Although 1930 has all the trappings of a vintage speakeasy — with a secret location, period décor and Jazz Age music — the drinks thought up by Benjamin Cavagna and team have a distinct futurist bent. At 1930, you drink like it’s 2030.
26. Two Schmucks (New Entry)
Two Schmucks was launched as a pop-up series before it was turned into a bar. Built on a shoestring, the space was closed after a while, completely gutted and rebuilt from scratch. Located in El Raval, one of Barcelona’s most diverse and multicultural areas, the team turns towards local produce — which, in Raval, can mean Pakistani or Arabic as much as Catalonian — to come up with the flavour-packed drinks on the monthly changing menus.
27. El Copitas
St. Petersburg, Russia
A well-hidden basement in St Petersburg wouldn’t be the first place you’d expect to find one of the world’s best agave bars. But, well, there you have it. El Copitas is exactly that – a delicious piece of Mexico in cool St Petersburg wrapped together in warm hospitality. The bar is diminutive in nature with guests invited to sit around a large table to enjoy their welcoming copita (cup) of tequila.
28. Cantina OK! (New Entry)
Cantina OK! is the bar Sydney didn’t know it needed until it was gifted it back in March 2019. It’s the kind of small, quirky bar common to Melbourne’s scene that fuelled the jealousy of Sydneysiders for years: set back down a lane from one of the CBD’s busiest streets, the only clue to what is there is a selection of precisely placed small mirrors on the bar facing the street, which pick up the light.
Lyaness, the South Bank hotel bar metres from the Thames, is industry maverick Ryan Chetiyawardana’s flagship venue. A lot has changed since it was Dandelyan displayed on the glass front edifice, except for the inquisitive nature of the drinks. At Lyaness, a light blue interior and green marble bar, things can be as simple or complex as you want them to be.
Secluded as it is in a side street near the Youngstorget, you could easily walk by Himkok. Once you’ve found the door with a blue light next to Youngsgate 2, it’s time for an adventure. But on a deeper level, Himkok is more than a bar – it is an institution that embodies Norwegian culture through liquid. Its sustainable practices are impressive too – there is little this bar of many levels does not do brilliantly well.
31. Baba au Rum
The father of the modern Athens cocktail scene, Baba Au Rum is also the most cherished. That’s because owner Thanos Prunarus – a worldly Athenian bon vivant – is a trailblazer, creating this modern rum sanctuary 11 years ago when the cocktail scene was in its adolescence. Sparks flew, awards followed, and not a lot has changed since, and that’s a good thing.
32. Panda & Sons (New Entry)
Step inside the barbershop frontage then down through the bookcase to enter the wonderful world of Panda & Sons. A signature Queen Street basement bar in Edinburgh's storied New Town, Panda offers drinks of great theatre and flair. Its famous Birdcage, featuring a smoke-filled cloche lifted with a flourish to reveal the drink beneath, is a regular sight.
Swift combines the best of two worlds – elegant crafted drinks, served swiftly. Tucked away in the former site of LAB in Old Compton Street, Soho, Swift has become a hub of its locale. That's what happens when you get everything right, from the decor, vibe and drinks to the service – no less was expected from a partnership between the pedigreed Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston and Nightjar and Oriole owners Rosie Simpson and Edmund Weil in the flanks.
34. Three Sheets
Chiselling the bar experience back to its fundamentals of great drinks and warm service is Three Sheets. At its heart is a no-nonsense approach – once you’re in Noel and Max Venning’s Dalston bar, it’s easy from start to finish. A small, clutter-free bar surrounded by a handful of seats, the décor is exposed brick and marble and the menu effortless to navigate.
35. The Bamboo Bar (New Entry)
The Bamboo Bar has that rare thing: a sense of place. It’s apparent the moment you enter. You’re there – the tropics – with wooden ceiling fans spinning over parquet flooring and rattan chairs; walls lined with bamboo and a jazz band providing the soundtrack. Bar operations manager Jamie Rhind, an alumnus of Artesian in London, has taken the bar to a new level – though it never forgets its foundations.
Tjoget is a multi-space venue housing a wine bodega, a beer café, a pan-Mediterranean dining room and a cocktail bar. Conceived and managed by two bartenders, Andreas Bergman and Joel Söderbäck, the cocktail bar has always been the beating heart of Tjoget. Part science, part whimsy, the ever-evolving cocktail menu is a collective effort, which finds inspiration in the traditions and flavours of the Mediterranean – but always with a distinct Scandinavian spin.
37. Buck & Breck (Re-Entry)
Through the door of what looks like a disused Bauhaus shop lies Buck & Breck, a neo-speakeasy for the discerning drinker. Inside, it’s blacker than the Berlin night sky, with a dominating rectangular central bar station that intimately connects 14 guests to the host bartender. Smaller tables surround the flanks and to the rear is a lounge area with softer furnishings.
38. Employees Only
New York, USA
When you hit on the right formula, don’t change a thing – that’s the thinking at EO (as Employees Only is known to the trade), which is the only bar to have appeared in all 12 editions of The World’s 50 Best Bars. The EO MO is delivering top-end service, big-flavour food and fine classic drinks, but most of all, fun.
39. Bulletin Place (Re-Entry)
For a little cocktail bar celebrating its eighth birthday this year, Bulletin Place has had a big effect on the way people drink in Sydney. When owners Tim Philips-Johansson, Rob Sloan, and Adi Ruiz launched the bar in 2012, they may not have expected that their five-strong list of cocktails — changing each day depending on the seasonal fruit available at market — would still be growing in popularity season after season.
40. Bar Benfiddich (Re-Entry)
You could call Hiroyasu Kayama a farmer who bartends. He runs four beehives, tends to nearly 100 juniper trees, and grows a host of botanicals that he dries in what was once his bedroom on the family farm just outside Tokyo. The botanicals go into his homemade absinthe, green herbal liqueurs and fermented wormwood tonic water, which power part of the deep cache of creative cocktails at Benfiddich.
Artesian may be a legendary four-time winner of The World’s 50 Best Bars but very few refer to its past glories these days. Under its current leaders Anna Sebastian and Marco Corallo, it has its own identity – a buzzing hotel bar, with warm and friendly five-star service and top-class cocktails. The most recent drinks list – honed in lockdown – is in reaction to highfalutin approaches.
42. Sober Company
One of several of Shingo Gokan’s multi-levelled playgrounds, you need to set aside a few hours to have the whole Sober experience. Start at the ground floor café level for some great coffee and aperitivos. You’ll need some sustenance – head to Sober Kitchen for some modern Chinese/fusion fare. One more stop will bring you to Sober Society, where the real drinking starts: go for the Corpse Reviver or one of the Zodiac-themed drinks.
43. Indulge Experimental Bistro
Consistently present on the scene, Aki Wang's Indulge Experimental Bistro continues to draw the crowds of Taipei. In the past year Wang has been collaborating more with brands, bars and mixologists across the city, which in turn has brought new and fresh ideas to Indulge.
44. Bar Trigona (New Entry)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bar Trigona’s raison d’être is sustainability and it shows at every turn. Head bartender Ashish Sharma recently launched a menu with clay pot-aged cocktails (this technique allows for more oxygen exchange and temperature control) as well as a tropical fruit-centric collection created by his team while he focused on the non-alcoholic options.
45. Drink Kong (New Entry)
Raised with the ambition to make a name for itself in Italy and beyond, Drink Kong is the first solo project by one of Rome's best bartenders, the Italian / Irish Patrick Pistolesi. In its look, feel and delivery, few could argue it hasn’t exceeded expectations. Its Blade Runner neon design merges with Japanese style, while from behind the counter a distinct sense of Roman soul is projected.
46. Room by Le Kief (New Entry)
Beyond cocktails, Room by Le Kief offers an experience. The circular interior, with a mixology station in the centre, looks to remove the feeling of a classic bar and have guests enter something new and undefined. With guests ushered in at different time slots throughout the night, Room by Le Kief takes cocktail and food pairings to the next level by centring them around a theme.
47. Alquímico (New Entry)
In 2016, Jean Trinh opened Alquímico in Cartagena with a team of five. How it’s grown – it now has a staff of 60 and occupies the whole of a colonial-era mansion. The bar is split over three floors, each with a different concept, but sharing a high-energy atmosphere. It is awarded the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award 2020.
48. High Five
The sumptuously appointed basement Bar High Five, with its wood panelling and green velvet banquettes, is the home of Hidetsugu Ueno, the man who has done more than anyone else to introduce Japanese bartending to the world. High Five is also the Heering Legend of The List 2020.
49. Charles H (New Entry)
Hidden within the Four Seasons, Seoul, Charles H pays homage to the travels of author and epicurean Charles Henry Baker Jr., who ate and drank his way around the world. Oozing charm, the debonair Keith Motsi is at the helm of this glitzy space with a speakeasy vibe and decorative nods to royal Korean palace trinkets and tapestry.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
One step into Presidente and you know you’re in a special place. Located in a stunning period building in the cosmopolitan streets of the Recoleta neighbourhood, Presidente is the glamour spot cocktail bar of Buenos Aires – but one that matches its style with substance. With a glowing back-lit bar and high ceilings with hanging chandeliers throwing light on to its original features, Presidente exudes character.
Now recap the whole list in our video:
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