You could hardly call Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 in Bangkok a subdued affair, but Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023, hosted by The Rosewood Hotel, Hong Kong, was another level. Here’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 revealed, and the winners of the other special awards this year.
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This year, with all of Asia’s borders reopened, the organizers rightly billed the event as the first full reunion of the bar industry since 2019 as the ceremony switched to Hong Kong’s Rosewood Hotel – the first time in the 50 Best organization’s 21-year history that they’ve brought an event to Hong Kong.
How Asia’s 50 Best Bars Voting Works
Winners had been selected by a 260-person anonymous regional panel of voters (made up of 25% drinks writers and educations, 25% well-traveled cocktail experts, and 50% bartenders and bar owners).
Bars, the 50 Best team say, don’t need to sell certain products, and there’s no specific criteria – other than they fit what one of the 260 experts feel makes an Asia’s 50 Best Bars-worthy bar.
Looking Back To Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022
Last year seems like a lifetime ago already. But, if you can, cast your memory back to the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 Awards hosted at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, at their Sala Rim Naam – reached by boat from the MO. It was the first in-person event coming out of the pandemic, even though not everywhere, or everything, had returned to normal.
Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 Awards Beyond The Top 50
Beyond the top spots, the list, which included 14 new entries, recognized bars from 16 different cities in Asia. Singapore did very well. As did India.
And among the growing number of special awards, Colin Chia won the Roku Industry Icon award and Keith Motsi from Charles H in Seoul won the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender.
Hong Kong’s Honky Tonk’s Tavern was the Campari One one to watch, Bangkok’s BKK Social Club won the Michter’s Art Of Hospitality Award, Bar Mood in Taipei won the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award, and the Nikka Highest Climber was MO Bar Singapore.
Added to those, the Legend Award went to Tokyo’s Bar Benfiddich, The London Essence Best New Opening award went to Goa’s Tesouro, Bar Trigona in Kuala Lumpur won the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award, and, finally, Argo in Hong Kong won the Disaronno Highest New Entry Award.
This year, with a resurgent industry, many predicted lots of new entries and movement in the Asia’s 50 Best Bar Awards 2023. The longer 51-100 list already hinted at it.
The 51-100 Long List For Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023
Before the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 announcement, the 50 Best organization announced the long list of bars in the 51-100 category, and two special awards.
The long list showed the increasing reach of the voting. Two bars from Nepal made the list, Barc at #100, and Bitters & Co at #69 – both in Kathmandu, Yakoboku in the Kyushu city of Kumamoto claimed #84, Wishbone Bar in Semarang, Indonesia, reached #76, Moonrock in Tainan in Taiwan reached #71, and another bar in Goa, Hideaway was announced at #66.
There were lots of surprising changes in the long list too. For example, Seoul’s Charles H slid dramatically from #7 to #51, Singapore’s Tippling Club from #27 to #63, and, despite being one to watch in 2023, Honky Tonks Tavern almost disappearing from the 100 altogether, at #98 after entering the list for the first time at #55 the previous year.
Two Pre-awards: Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award and the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award
Before Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 Awards, the 50 Best organization revealed the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award and the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award.
The Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award 2023 went to Sago House, Jay Gray, Desiree Jane Silva and George Abishe’s built-on-a-shoestring Singapore bar where service feels like home.
And, following that, “mentor, champion of diversity, and slinger of awesome drinks,” Beckaly Franks, who moved to Hong Kong in 2014, and opened The Pontiac, and later, Call Me Al and Artifact with Ezra Star won Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award 2023.
Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 Revealed
And so, as expected, the 1-50 list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 offered up as many surprises as the reunion of the bartending community did good times. So, who won Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 coveted first place?
But first, the special awards. Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023, The Campari One To Watch, the only award selected by the 50 Best team, went to Nighthawk from Singapore.
In the destination awards, the best bar in Sri Lanka went to Smoke & Bitters. The best bar in Mainland China went to Hope & Sesame. The best bar in Malaysia, at #38, went to Bar Trigona. And the best bar in the Philippines, at #34, went to The Curator.
Added to those, at #22 The London Essence Best New Bar was Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar. The best bar in India went to Sidecar, at #18. And the best bar in Taiwan went to Indulge, at #11.
Besides those, Analogue won the sustainability award, while climbing to #15. The Disaronno Highest New Entry went to Virtù, in Japan. And the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award went to The Cocktail Club in Jakarta, at #19.
The Roku Industry Icon Award went to Bar Benfiddich’s Hiroyasu Kayama, which also scored #4 and the best bar in Japan accolade. The Nikka Highest Climber, up 43 places at #5, and the best bar in Korea, was Zest.
Sago House, which took the pre-announced Michter’s Art Of Hospitality Award also took #10 place.
Which left the final three. The remaining bars represented three different countries: Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. And so at #3, Bangkok’s BKK Social Club. Jigger & Pony, the Legend of the List, was #2 again, and so, with the top two unchanged, Coa was crowed #1 again for the third time.
Here is the full list of winners on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023:
1. Coa (Hong Kong)
2. Jigger & Pony (Singapore)
3. BKK Social Club (Bangkok)
4. Bar Benfiddich (Tokyo)
5. Zest (Seoul)
6. Tropic City (Bangkok)
7. Nutmeg & Clove (Singapore)
8. Argo (Hong Kong)
9. Darkside (Hong Kong)
10. Sago House (Singapore)
11. Indulge Experimental Bistro (Taipei)
12. Vesper (Bangkok)
13. Bar Cham (Seoul)
14. The SG Club (Tokyo)
15. Analogue (Singapore)
16. Republic (Singapore)
17. The Aubrey (Hong Kong)
18. Sidecar (New Delhi)
19. The Cocktail Club (Jakarta)
20. Virtù (Tokyo)
21. Manhattan (Singapore)
22. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar (Bangkok)
23. Lamp Bar (Nara)
24. 28 Hongkong Street (Singapore)
25. Le Chamber (Seoul)
26. Penicillin (Hong Kong)
27. Atlas (Singapore)
28. Alice (Seoul)
29. Pantja (Jakarta)
30. Employees Only (Singapore)
31. Quinary (Hong Kong)
32. Stay Gold Flamingo (Singapore)
33. Mostly Harmless (Hong Kong)
34. The Curator (Manila)
35. The Bombay Canteen (Mumbai)
36. Bar Trigona (Kuala Lumpur)
37. Southside Parlor (Seoul)
38. Copitas (Bengaluru)
39. Hope & Sesame (Guangzhou)
40. Smoke & Bitters (Sri Lanka)
41. Vender (Taichung)
42. Native (Singapore)
43. The Public House (Taipei)
44. Bee’s Knees (Kyoto)
45. High Five (Tokyo)
46. Soko (Seoul)
47. The Old Man (Hong Kong)
48. The Living Room (Mumbai)
49. The Bellwood (Tokyo)
50. Penrose (Kuala Lumpur)