Manhattan Singapore’s head bartender Cedric Mendoza in action; Solera-aged Negroni
Food & Drink Features

Raise your glasses: 10 bars in Asia land spots in World's 50 Best 2018

No need to fly to New York or London for the best drinks in the world—Asia’s top bars are starting to steal the spotlight
Cyrene de la Rosa | Oct 14 2018

At the 10th World’s 50 Best Bars 2018 Awards held last 3 October 2018 at the iconic Roundhouse in London, UK, London’s Dandelyan, established by forward-thinking cocktail creator and bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, claimed the No. 1 position and the World’s Best Bar award. 

The 2018 list features 12 new bars, 10 making their debut, with two returning to the list. Asia celebrates a successful awards ceremony with 10 establishments from Singapore, China, Japan, and Taiwan making it on the list this year. 

Two-time Asia’s 50 Best Bar winner Manhattan entered the world’s top three at No. 3

Singapore at the top

Singapore dominates Asia’s ranking with a total of 5 bars on the list, including two-time Asia’s 50 Best Bar winner Manhattan that entered the world’s top three at No. 3, claiming the title of Best Bar in Asia. Singapore is also represented on the list by crowd favorite Atlas (No. 8), Operation Dagger (No. 23), and 28 Hong Kong Street (No. 34), while Native, the city-state’s bar that takes pride in serving only regionally sourced components in all aspects of the bar, captured the Highest Climber award, jumping 34 spots to No. 13 from last year’s No. 47 ranking. 

Native Bar Singapore
Leon and Vijay at Native Bar Singapore 
A new cocktail at Native
 
Adding to Singapore’s winning streak, Singapore-based bartender Joe Schofield, recently of Tippling Club (No. 58) and now heading the Sensorium project, was given the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender award (the equivalent of the World’s 50 Best Bars Bartender of the Year award). A majority of bartenders have voiced out that Schofield truly deserves this award, thanks to his ground-breaking flavor developments, including his multi-colored and flavored, IG-friendly gummy bears at Tippling Club.
 
Edriane Lim in action at Atlas Bar Singapore, No. 8 World’s 50 Best Bars

Asia’s ascendancy

The hands-down scene stealer at the awards was The Old Man, Hong Kong’s first Ernest Hemingway-inspired bar. It caused quite a stir, winning the Highest New Entry award as it made its debut on the World’s 50 Best Bars list at No. 10. The Old Man also made a grand entrance at the inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards held in Singapore last 3 May 2018, when it entered the list for the first time at No. 5! 

Adding to Asia’s success and representing China is Speak Low in Shanghai at No. 20. Japan boasts Ueno-sans Bar High Five (No. 12) and Bar Benfiddich (No. 49), both from Tokyo, while Taiwan’s Indulge Experimental Bistro in Taipei landed at No. 38.

Overall, the UK and USA still lead the World’s 50 Best Bars pack this year with 10 bars each, mostly coming from the two best-known bar hubs, London and New York. But it’s looking like the craft cocktail scene’s center of activity is slowly but surely moving to Asia.

With these latest developments, local cocktail snobs and aficionados may soon realize that we no longer need to travel far for a proper tipple. Even the Philippines has seen a marked improvement these past three years, with the inclusion of our very own The Curator Coffee & Cocktails bar on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list since its inception in 2016. It finished at No. 25 at this year’s awards, while retaining its Best Bar in the Philippines title. I’m hopeful that The Curator will soon be part of the World’s 50 Best Bars family in due time.

The winners

How the list is made

The list of 50 best is compiled by votes from The World’s 50 Best Bars Academy, comprised of more than 500 drinks experts, including renowned bartenders and consultants, drinks writers, and cocktail specialists from around the world. The Academy of voters is spread across the globe with the distribution of voters designed to reflect the relative development and sophistication of the drinks sector, and the concentration of quality bars, in each region. Each voter casts seven votes, based on their best bar experiences of the previous 18 months, of which at least three must be for bars located outside the voter’s country of residence. Voters are required to remain anonymous and voting is confidential and secure. 

The World’s 50 Best Bars is part of the 50 Best family, which includes the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards event took place in Singapore in May 2018.

For the complete list of the 2018 World’s 50 Best Bars, visit https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/fifty-best-bars-list-2018/?ist=1.