The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020: Embracing Change In A Changing World

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020 - Agostino Perrone | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For Thought

With the recent telecast of the inaugural World’s 50 Best Bars 2020 live across various media, we are graced with a new list in a completely different world. This year, we see a virtual coming together celebrating some of the biggest names in the bar industry, with the biggest takeaway being global representation, specifically Asia. We’ve made a comparative list with positions last year as well some thoughts from the bars themselves.

Mark Sansom, Content Editor for The World’s 50 Best Bars | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For ThoughtMark Sansom, Content Editor, The World’s 50 Best Bars

“It’s great to see such a broad spectrum of bars on this year’s list. It’s the most diverse in terms of number of countries featured, with bars from 23 countries and 11 new entries spread across Australia, Colombia, Greater China, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and UK. It goes to show how fast paced the global cocktail scene is and the number of quality bars from all corners of the globe.” — Mark Sansom, Content Editor of The World’s 50 Best Bars.

“Despite the very difficult times everyone is going through, I am so pleased for and proud of everyone on the list, and I mean the whole list up to 100. I was also very happy to see the first ever inclusion of establishments from South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand and several new entries from Japan and Taiwan too. Our brethren in Sydney also did well. This makes for quite a diverse list with a very strong showing by Asian bars overall which fills my heart with pride.” — Vivian Pei, Academy Chair, Asia of World’s 50 Best Bars.

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020

  1. Connaught Bar, London, UK (No. 2 in 2019)
  2. Dante, New York, USA (No. 1 in 2019)
  3. The Clumsies, Athens, Greece (No. 6 in 2019)
  4. Atlas, Singapore, Singapore (No. 8 in 2019)
  5. Tayēr + Elementary, London, UK
  6. Kwānt, London, UK (No. 47 in 2019)
  7. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, Argentina (No. 3 in 2019)
  8. Coa, Hong Kong, China (No. 49 in 2019)
  9. Jigger & Pony, Singapore, Singapore (No. 29 in 2019)
  10. The SG Club, Tokyo, Japan (No. 24 in 2019)
  11. Maybe Sammy, Sydney, Australia (No. 43 in 2019)
  12. Attaboy, New York, USA (No. 7 in 2019)
  13. NoMad Bar, New York, USA (No. 4 in 2019)
  14. Manhattan, Singapore, Singapore (No. 11 in 2019)
  15. The Old Man, Hong Kong, China (No. 9 in 2019)
  16. Katana Kitten, New York, USA (No. 14 in 2019)
  17. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City, Mexico (No. 10 in 2019)
  18. Native, Singapore, Singapore (No. 12 in 2019)
  19. Paradiso, Barcelona, Spain (No. 20 in 2019)
  20. American Bar, London, UK (No. 5 in 2019)
  21. Carnaval, Lima, Peru (No. 13 in 2019)
  22. Salmón Gurú, Madrid, Spain (No. 19 in 2019)
  23. Zuma, Dubai, UAE
  24. Little Red Door, Paris, France (No. 36 in 2019)
  25. 1930, Milan, Italy (No. 44 in 2019)
  26. Two Schmucks, Barcelona, Spain
  27. El Copitas, St Petersburg, Russia (No. 27 in 2019)
  28. Cantina OK!, Sydney, Australia
  29. Lyaness, London, UK (No. 39 in 2019)
  30. Himkok, Oslo, Norway (No. 17 in 2019)
  31. Baba Au Rum, Athens, Greece (No. 31 in 2019)
  32. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh, UK
  33. Swift, London, UK (No. 41 in 2019)
  34. Three Sheets, London, UK (No. 16 in 2019)
  35. The Bamboo Bar, Bangkok, Thailand
  36. Tjoget, Stockholm, Sweden
  37. Buck & Breck, Berlin, Germany
  38. Employees Only, New York, USA (No. 26 in 2019)
  39. Bulletin Place, Sydney, Australia
  40. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo, Japan
  41. Artesian, London, UK (No. 48 in 2019)
  42. Sober Company, Shanghai, China (No. 45 in 2019)
  43. Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei, Taiwan
  44. Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  45. Drink Kong, Rome, Italy (No. 82 in 2019, Campari One To Watch 2019)
  46. Room by Le Kief, Taipei, Taiwan
  47. Alquimico, Cartegena, Colombia
  48. High Five, Tokyo, Japan (No. 18 in 2019)
  49. Charles H, Seoul, South Korea
  50. Presidente, Buenos Aires, Argentina (No. 33 in 2019)

Dante - The World's Best Bar and The Best Bar in North America | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For ThoughtDante, New York, USA

And The Winners Are…

Connaught Bar in London takes the spot for Best Bar in the World and Best Bar in Europe while Dante (No. 2) in New York takes Best Bar in North America. Atlas (No. 4) takes Best Bar in Asia while Buenos Aires based Florería Atlántico (No. 7) is the Best Bar in South America with Maybe Sammy (No. 11) in Sydney wining Best Bar in Australasia. Zuma (No. 23) in Dubai placed as Best Bar in the Middle East and Africa. The 2020 list also notably features bars from 23 countries, with 11 new entries spread across Australia, Colombia, Greater China, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and UK.

Michter's Art of Hospitality Award 2020 - From Left to Right — Andrea Gualdi, Stefano Catino and Martin Hudak | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For ThoughtMaybe Sammy, Sydney, Australia 

Alquímico (No. 47) in Cartagena, Colombia is awarded Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award, while Tayēr + Elementary (No. 5) from London, secures Disaronno Highest New Entry Award. Coa (No. 8) in Hong Kong takes Nikka Highest Climber Award while High Five (No.48), Tokyo, is named Heering Legend of The List. Kwānt (No. 6), London is awarded London Essence Best New Opening Award and we have Maybe Sammy (No. 11) from Sydney winning the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award.

“It’s just incredible! I’m proud to be a part of the bar family. The support and love I have received from my peers is just unbelievable! We will not take this for granted, we will continue our journey while keep pushing and improving ourselves!” — Jay Khan, Coa, Hong Kong, China.

Campari One To Watch Award 2020 - Galaxy Bar Team | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For ThoughtGalaxy Bar, Dubai, UAE

Galaxy Bar (No. 67) from Dubai, is the winner of the Campari One To Watch Award and Renato ‘Tato’ Giovannoni of Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, wins the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award while drinks sector activist and educator Ashtin Berry is named the Roku Industry Icon.

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020 - Connaught Bar, London | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For Thought

Best Bar in the World: Connaught Bar, London

The Connaught bar in London has been dubbed the Best Bar in the World, and with good reason. Other than making their own gin which the use for their dedicated Martini trolley. The bar is run by Agostino Perrone and team, and has time and time ranked in the top 5 from 2016, with finally taking the top spot after years of consistently ranking.

50 Best For Recovery

This year the 50 Best also launched their 50 Best for Recovery initiative where restaurants and bars across the globe are able to apply for a grant to help them in light of the Covid-19 situation. One such bar to have successfully applied and received the support would be Atas Speakeasy, a bar in Ipoh, a vibrant city three hours away from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

“I have always been a fan of what the team at 50 Best are doing and when I read about the Recovery Grant, I knew it could help lessen my burden with the business. To my surprise, I received an email saying that we have been approved! It really did help by clearing up salaries for the team! I have learned that anything can happen and with that, we must be able to adapt. E-commerce is still a challenge but so is sustainability and we already achieved that over the last two years. Here at ATAS we look forward to what the future has in store, the learning process is endless!” — Alicia Mak, Atas Speakeasy, Ipoh, Malaysia

It has been wonderful to be able to help so many hospitality venues in their time of need. So far we have given 236 grants to different venues across 53 different countries. We have been overwhelmed by the support of our partner brands who created some outrageously innovative experiences and items for our Bid for Recovery auction earlier in the year. We will continue to raise funds into next year and for as long as we are able to do so. — Mark Sansom, Content Editor of The World’s 50 Best Bars.

Ashtin Berry, Roku Industry Icon Award | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For ThoughtAshtin Berry, Roku Industry Icon Award

50/50 Gender Parity

The list this year has also seen a change in the parity of voters, following suit from 50 Best Restaurants to have more inclusivity and better representation. There is always arguments for and against this move as some say it should be based on meritocracy, but honestly, there isn’t any evidence that it isn’t either. Statistically, there are fewer female bartenders in the industry, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years. The list itself hasn’t seem to favoured bars that are one way or another, without any visible leaning that can be correlated to gender.

“We try to increase the number of voters in the panel every year. We keep the increment quite small, so the quality of each voter can be maintained. This year we have increased by 15 voters. The panel is also refreshed by 25% each year; a constant change of people making the votes helps to ensure the list is as fresh as it can be, year after year. This year is the first where our panel is 50/50 gender balanced. No, there haven’t been any noticeable changes that can be linked to gender, in my opinion. For me, I don’t believe that gender has an influence on someone’s opinion on a bar – it is more a matter of taste and the aesthetics and influences that appeal to each individual.” — Mark Sansom, Content Editor of The World’s 50 Best Bars.

A More Global Representation

This year is also huge for with new entries and first-time placements for countries across Asia including Bar Trigona (No. 44) from Kuala Lumpur, The Bamboo Bar (No.35) from Bangkok and Charles H (No. 49) from South Korea. What this has shown is a more international representation for Asia, which would make sense as Asia accounts for 4.3 billion people, home to 60% of the global population.

Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For Thought

“This is an outstanding achievement for Bar Trigona team, all the hard work has paid off. We would like to thank local bar community, our management team and Wholly spirits for continue support and love, without them this would never be possible”. — Ashish Sharma, Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Bamboo Bar | Asia's 50 Best Bars 2019 | Food For Thought

“Although we maybe the first bar in Thailand to be in the World’s 50 Best Bars, it’s great to see others like Vesper, Rabbit Hole and Tropic City making the Asia’s 50 Best Bars. It’s signals that Bangkok is finally being considered on the global stage. I’m very proud of my team, it’s been a difficult year with a few changes, so it gives us motivation to keep going and improving. The award is sentiment to the efforts of our staff, current and past, over the past few years.” — Jamie Rhind, Bamboo Bar, Bangkok, Thailand.

Charles H, Seoul, South Korea | The Worlds 50 Best Bars 2020 | Food For Thought

“We are thrilled to be recognised amongst such great establishments. To be the very first bar from South Korea means a lot to us and we feel privileged to represent Korea on a global stage and it is truly an honour to receive the highest ranking since the opening of the bar. The Charles H. team has been dedicated to delivering new and exciting bar experiences for our guests and it is a great honour to have their efforts recognised in this remarkable way. We will be celebrating with our guests and team over the coming few days.” — Keith Motsi, Charles H, Seoul, South Korea.

Spread Love, Not Covid

We have seen a switch up in the list this year with many returnees and new bars placing up and down the list, a stronger global representation as well as 50 Best doing their part to truly help the industry with the Recovery Grant. The world as we know It has changed, but that doesn’t mean all life has to stop, it just means patrons need to be more self-aware and responsible when drinking or dining out. The trials and tribulations that the drink industry has gone through should not be disregarded, instead, celebrated in the best ways. If it is safe where you are, do go down to your local bar to support them, and if not, order bottled cocktail deliveries, which most bars across the globe has moved towards. If you cannot add, do not take away, and always remember to wear your mask and sanitise your hands.

For our thoughts on The Worlds 50 Best Bars, see The World’s 50 Best Bars 2019.
For our thoughts on Asia’s 50 Best Bars, see Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2020.

For all 50 Best related content, see 50 Best.

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

Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic, travelogue and opinion columnist which is curated on Food For Thought. He has been a freelance writer for 10 years and has previously worked as a lawyer. He currently is the Principal Counsultant of A Thoughtfull Consultancy.

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