Calling all bars: entries for the Bareksten Best Bar Design Award 2024 are now open!

Emma Sleight - 17/05/2024

Think you have the best-designed bar on the planet? Make it official by entering this year’s award, part of The World’s 50 Best Bars programme, for a chance to win. Here’s everything you need to know about the entry criteria, judges and previous winners

After the successful launch of the Bareksten Best Bar Design Award in 2023, which received hundreds of applications from around the globe, 50 Best is once again inviting bars to submit their venues for consideration from today.

Apply now

Venues can be located anywhere in the world and do not need to have any prior affiliation the 50 Best rankings or 50 Best Discovery to be eligible. Entries will close on 28th June and the winner will be announced at The World’s 50 Best Bars 2024 ceremony in Madrid on Tuesday 22nd October, followed by regional winners being named at North America’s 50 Best Bars 2025 and Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2025 respectively.

Style and substance

The Bareksten Best Bar Design Award was created to celebrate and reward bars for thoughtful design that transcends style and taste to hit key touchpoints of accessibility, sustainability and appropriateness for their markets. Last year’s winner of the inaugural award at The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 was Night Hawk – a bijoux Singapore venue that takes its design inspiration from a painting entitled Nighthawks by American artist Edward Hopper.

Bar director Peter Chua partnered with architect Studio DinDing to create a version of the artwork in bar form that adapts its dystopian sentiment of urban alienation into a space that offers guests a retreat from the fast-paced Singaporean streets.
Night Hawk in Singapore took home the inaugural Bareksten Best Bar Design Award in 2023

Given the establishment’s tiny geographical footprint in the Tanjong Pagar district, creating a 25-seat bar was a tall order. The team employed clever space-saving solutions such as installing rotating and foldable chairs and sliding doors and integrating smart tech like a glass-by-glass chiller system that freezes stemware instantly to negate the need for chillers.

The Bareksten Best Bar Design Award also saw North America’s regional winner announced at the awards ceremony in San Miguel de Allende on 23rd April 2024 as part of North America’s 50 Best Bars 2024.

The inaugural winner for North America did not, in fact, start its life as a bar at all, but rather as a classic all-American bowling alley. A labour of love for owner Luke Blahnik, Chicago’s Avondale Bowl is the result of a lengthy renovation project that has maintained a fine balance between innovation and historical preservation, with original features such as the lanes, pin setters and ball returns retained.

The light-filled bar itself is almost entirely new with one significant retro feature still remaining: the curved mahogany bar rail that sweeps around, creating an inviting and, most importantly, stylishly functional.

Judge and jury

The award will be judged by an esteemed panel of hospitality design experts, each of whom will assess each entry based on six criteria:
The cool retro-modern design of Chicago's Avondale Bowl won it the North American title

Innovation: does the design stand out and provide something new or unique to the bar world?

Aesthetics: a grading of the artistic value of the bar, including its design, shape, colour, texture, finish and engineering.

Accessibility: consideration of all guests’ access to all areas of the bar and its facilities, as well as an assessment of its safety for guests and staff.

Ergonomics: functionality of the bar space, including bar stations, access to fridges, the height of speed rail and access to back bar. How easy is it for guests to navigate and how smooth is the flow through the bar’s facilities?

Ecological compatibility: potential environmental and ecological impact of the bar, considering its use of materials and processes used in the build; how responsibly it uses energy and interacts with its environment. Essentially, is the bar built to stand the test of time?

Emotional quotient: in addition to fulfilling its practical purpose, does the design create a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction?

As well as crafting a written entry that addresses the criteria, bars will also be asked to provide photography, schematic drawings, architectural plans and a video walk-through of their venue.

Meet the judges

When the entry phase closes on 28th June, six of the most creative minds in hospitality design will whittle the applicants down to a final three, who will be invited to Madrid to attend The World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony, where the global winner will be announced.
Submissions will be judged by an international panel of design experts

The judges, who helped design the award’s criteria and will select the winner, are:

Alia Akkam: a native New Yorker, experienced drinks and design journalist and self-confessed Europhile, Alia Akkam has called Budapest home since 2015. She is a contributing editor at Hospitality Design and writes regularly for Architectural Digest's AD PRO vertical as well as ICON and OnOffice. Akkam has an affinity for writing about cocktails and bars, as well as interiors, hotels, travel, food and culture. She is the author of books on gin and hotel bars, with one dedicated to tequila forthcoming.

Anirudh Singhal: after helping launch numerous trend-setting restaurants and bars, Singhal is now the man behind Speedx, a firm built to design hospitality venues from the ground up on the principles of ergonomics and comfort. Speedx has built more than 800 bars across India, making it the largest bar design and build company in the subcontinent.

Bethan Ryder: with more than 25 years’ experience in design, interiors and travel journalism, Ryder is an expert in what makes a great bar. Now the executive editorial director at leading global trend forecasting agency WGSN, she has previously held senior editorial positions at Elle DecorationWallpaper and Telegraph Luxury.

Paul Semple: Semple is one of two masterminds behind the hospitality-focused interior design studio MSDO. With over 20 years’ experience working around the world, including over five years leading the global hospitality team at multinational architecture firm Hassell, Semple has been based in Singapore since 2004.

Scott Baird: Baird is a San Francisco Bay Area native and a hospitality veteran. After years behind the bar at lauded venues in the US, he founded the creative agency Rococo Cantaloupe, which is designed to “make drinks, throw parties and create fun”.

Shaun Clarkson: Clarkson has headed up his eponymous London-based design agency for more than three decades, working exclusively across the spectrum of hospitality. Known for his diversity of projects and for his vivid colour palette, Clarkson has been involved in brand development for drinks brands, as well as being a former bar operator himself.

Apply now

Miss last year's ceremony? Watch the highlights here:

The 16th edition of The World’s 50 Best Bars list, sponsored by Perrier, will be announced on Tuesday 22nd October 2024. To be the first to hear about the latest news and announcements, browse the website, follow us on Instagram, find us on Facebook, visit us on X and subscribe to our YouTube channel.