Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023: COA Strikes A Hattrick

Asia's 50 Best Bars, Awards Ceremony, 2023

This year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 is significant for the city of Hong Kong, which not only makes its debut in the bustling city but is home to three-time Best Bar in Asia COA. The city saw the bar industry from across Asia gather at the Rosewood in celebration. Here’s the run down.

“Hong Kong lived up to its reputation as one of the finest cities in the world for eating and drinking. Our first event here blew us away with the welcome we received and how successful the events were. Alongside the core 50 Best event programme, there was a mind-blowing 68 satellite events. It could not have been more successful. The list this year reflected the gradually opening travel lanes across the content. It was brilliant to see South Korean bars do so well and some brilliant new entries from across the continent.” — Mark Sansom, Content Director for Asia’s 50 Best Bars.

COA | Asia's 50 Best Bars 2023 | Food For Thought

COA: Three Times A Charm

COA has not only won once or twice, but thrice, proving that independent bars can top the list. While they are known for making excellent agave cocktails, it is also their penchant for education on agave spirits and surrounding work that has put them in the top spot time and time again. Jay Khan is also known as one of the most humble and generous with his knowledge people in the bar industry, so his success is well deserved. And yes, the best bar in Asia doesn’t stop being the best bar in Asia just because it’s won the two years before.

“Surreal!! Still pinching myself to make sure this isn’t a dream. To be honest, this one means the most as it was hosted in HK in front of our family and friends. We are very proud and grateful the community we’ve build collectively through agave spirits. We’ve got a big year ahead of us and we are not taking anything for granted”. — Jay Khan, COA, Hong Kong, China.

Asia's 50 Best Bars, Awards Ceremony, 2023

Go Team Malaysia!

Malaysia has 2 bars placing in the top 50 this year, Bar Trigona (No. 36) and newly opened Penrose (No. 50), with Bar Trigona being a mainstay in the top 50 for a few years now, but its great to see a bar like Penrose breach the top 50 in its first year of opening. Other Malaysian bars to place in the top 100 this year include Junglebird (No. 55), Reka (No. 65), Coleys (No.67) and Three X Co. (No. 77), all bars well known for their craft.

It feels amazing to continue the legacy of being the best bar in Malaysia, although I feel Malaysia should be represented higher on the list. The community has been strongly knit and will eventually rise higher.” — Rohan Matmary, Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“The overwhelming love and support is surreal. The team and I are extremely grateful for this award and we can’t wait to share with you what’s coming soon!” — Jon Lee, Penrose, Malaysia

Academy Chairs | Asia's 50 Best Bars 2023 | Food For Thought

Two Cents: Thoughts From The Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy Chairs

We also spoke to the Academy Chairs of the regions to get their thoughts on the list and how their regions are represented, with John Ng the newly appointed Academy Chair for his region.

“I am so thrilled for and proud of this region! I think it is clear to all (and will be even more so after October), the amazing amount of passion, drive, creativity and community we have in Singapore and Asia as a whole. Team Asia! 💜💜” — Vivian Pei, Senior Academy Chair for China and Korea; North Asia; Southeast Asia – South; Southeast Asia – North

“I loved the list. Finally we’re showing that Japan isn’t just about Tokyo. We had bars from Osaka, Kumamoto and Okinawa for the first time, and Kyoto and Nara too. I think Kumamoto might be the location that surprised a lot of people — it’s so damn remote — but the bar that people voted for is so damn good! The new faces in Tokyo — Virtu and Bellwood if we’re talking about top 50, and Gold if we’re talking top 100 — were not surprises in any way. Gold is something really fresh and new, Virtu has become one of the essential bars to visit, and everyone loves Bellwood.” — Nick Coldicott, Academy Chair for Japan.

“I am thrilled for the bars that made it to the 1-100 list this year. Each one of them is truly deserving of the recognition. The bars span multiple cities across the region, proving that cocktail culture is no longer concentrated in any one city and there is tremendous potential across the region. The quality of drinks and service in South Asia is truly world class and it’s great to finally see these bars being celebrated.” — Priyanka Blah, Academy Chair for India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives.

“I think this year list are so exciting. We see many new bars are on the list. Bars who are on the list are some of the best in the region in term of drinks, hospitality and innovation. Impressed to see venues which made to the list and also stay strong during one of most difficult time around with all regulation in place from the government. They keep themselves together and some even make it better and better.” — John Ng, Academy Chair for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

Holly Graham | Asia's 50 Best Bars 2023 | Food For Thought

Thanks For The Love Holly Graham

This year also sees Holly Graham, the outgoing Academy Chair for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, step down as she will be opening her own bar, Tokyo Confidential in Tokyo. She has not only been a great Academy Chair for her region but has also represented the bar industry in Asia with her tireless coverage of guest shifts in Asia under DRiNK Magazine.

It’s been an absolute honour to represent my region and I really hope I’ve done the bars proud – because they certainly have made me beyond proud. But now, it’s time for me to join the ranks of bar owner!” — Holly Graham, Outgoing Academy Chair for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

A Seat At The Bar: Slowly But Surely

This year’s list shows that its almost impossible to predict, with COA, a bar which doesn’t engage a PR agency, setting an interesting precedent by being the first bar achieving such a feat on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. It is great to see bars like The Cocktail Club in Jakarta make a significant leap, as well as the strong showing of Korean bars in general. So what does it take to climb the list? Perhaps a stellar menu coupled with great hospitality, humility and treating all customers like VIPs and a genuine interest in creating an outstanding bar experience.

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023

  1. COA, Hong Kong, China
  2. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
  3. BKK Social Club, Bangkok, Thailand
  4. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo, Japan
  5. Zest, Seoul, Korea
  6. Tropic City, Bangkok, Thailand
  7. Nutmeg & Clove, Singapore
  8. Argo, Hong Kong, China
  9. Darkside, Hong Kong, China
  10. Sago House, Singapore
  11. Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei, Taiwan
  12. Vesper, Bangkok, Thailand
  13. Cham Bar, Seoul, Korea
  14. The SG Club, Tokyo, Japan
  15. Analogue Initiative, Singapore
  16. Republic, Singapore
  17. The Aubrey, Hong Kong, China
  18. Sidecar, New Delhi, India
  19. The Cocktail Club, Jakarta, Indonesia
  20. Virtù, Tokyo, Japan
  21. Manhattan, Singapore
  22. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok, Thailand
  23. Lamp Bar, Nara, Japan
  24. 28 HongKong Street, Singapore
  25. Le Chamber, Seoul, Korea
  26. Penicillin, Hong Kong, China
  27. Atlas, Singapore
  28. Alice, Seoul, Korea
  29. Pantja, Jakarta, Indonesia
  30. Employees Only, Singapore
  31. Quinary, Hong Kong, China
  32. Stay Gold Flamingo, Singapore
  33. Mostly Harmless, Hong Kong, China
  34. The Curator, Manila, Philippines
  35. The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai, India
  36. Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  37. Southside Parlor, Seoul, Korea
  38. Copitas, Bengaluru, India
  39. Hope & Sesame, Guangzhou, China
  40. Smoke & Bitters, Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka
  41. Vender, Taichung, Taiwan
  42. Native, Singapore
  43. The Public House, Taipei, Taiwan
  44. Bee’s Knees, Kyoto, Japan
  45. High Five, Tokyo, Japan
  46. Soko, Seoul, Korea
  47. The Old Man, Hong Kong, China
  48. The Living Room, Mumbai, India
  49. The Bellwood, Tokyo, Japan
  50. Penrose, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  51. Charles H, Seoul, Korea
  52. To Infinity and Beyond, Taipei, Taiwan
  53. The Pontiac, Hong Kong, China
  54. Room by Le Kief, Taipei, Taiwan
  55. Junglebird, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  56. Gold Bar, Tokyo, Japan
  57. Americano, Mumbai, India
  58. Home, New Delhi, India
  59. Opium, Bangkok, Thailand
  60. Hoots’, New Delhi, India
  61. Last Word, Singapore
  62. Craftroom, Osaka, Japan
  63. Tippling Club, Singapore
  64. The Elephant Room, Singapore
  65. Reka, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  66. Hideaway, Goa, India
  67. Coley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  68. Asia Today, Bangkok, Thailand
  69. Bitters & Co., Kathmandu, Nepal
  70. Epic, Shanghai, China
  71. Moonrock, Tainan, Taiwan
  72. Pine & Co, Seoul, Korea
  73. Night Hawk, Singapore
  74. No Sleep Club, Singapore
  75. The Back Room, Manila, Philippines
  76. Wishbone Bar, Semarang, Indonesia
  77. Three X Co., Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  78. #FindTheLockerRoom, Bangkok, Thailand
  79. Offtrack, Singapore
  80. El Lequio, Okinawa, Japan
  81. Bar Rocking Chair, Kyoto, Japan
  82. Stir, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  83. Bespoke, Singapore
  84. Yakoboku, Kumamoto, Japan
  85. The Haflington, Hanoi, Vietnam
  86. Mizunara: The Library, Hong Kong, China
  87. The Odd Couple, Shanghai, China
  88. The Sailing Bar, Nara, Japan
  89. The Wise King, Hong Kong, China
  90. Union Trading Company, Shanghai, China
  91. Aha Saloon, Taipei, Taiwan
  92. Bar Trench, Tokyo, Japan
  93. Bar Mood, Taipei, Taiwan
  94. PCO, New Delhi, India
  95. Origin Grill & Bar, Singapore
  96. Enigma, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  97. Tell Camellia, Hong Kong, China
  98. Honky Tonks Tavern, Hong Kong, China
  99. Loft, Bangkok, Thailand
  100. Barc, Kathmandu, Nepal

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022: Special Awards

Best Bar in Asia: COA, Hong Kong, China
Best Bar in Hong Kong: COA, Hong Kong, China
Best Bar in India: Sidecar, New Delhi, India
Best Bar in Indonesia: The Cocktail Club, Jakarta, Indonesia
Best Bar in Japan: Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo, Japan
Best Bar in Korea: Zest, Seoul, Korea
Best Bar in Malaysia: Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Best Bar in Singapore: Jigger & Pony, Singapore
Best Bar in Sri Lanka: Smoke & Bitters, Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka
Best Bar in Taiwan: Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei, Taiwan
Best Bar in Thailand: BKK Social Club, Bangkok, Thailand
Best Bar in The Philippines: The Curator, Manila, The Philippines

Campari One To Watch Award: Night Hawk, Singapore
Disaronno Highest New Entry: Virtù, Tokyo, Japan
Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award: Analogue, Singapore
London Essence Best New Opening: Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok, Thailand
Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award: Sago House, Singapore
Nikka Highest Climber: Zest, Seoul, Korea
Rémy Martin Legend of the List: Jigger & Pony, Singapore
Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award: The Cocktail Club, Jakarta, Indonesia 

Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award: Beckaly Franks of The Pontiac, Hong Kong, China
Roku Industry Icon: Hiroyasu Kayama of Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo, Japan

For our thoughts on Asia’s 50 Best Bars, see Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022.
For our thoughts on The Worlds 50 Best Bars, see The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022.
For all 50 Best related content, see 50 Best.

| PHOTOGRAPHY: THE WORLD’S 50 BEST | WEBSITE:: ASIA’S 50 BEST BARS |

Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

One Comment

  1. From underdog to overachiever: What propelled The Cocktail Club Jakarta’s remarkable jump on the prestigious list? regard

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