For the third edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, the 2018 list was revealed at an awards ceremony at Capitol Theatre in Singapore last night. There was glitz. The buzz of anticipation in the air. The rankings covered nine countries in total. Nine. In all of Asia.
But hey, their list, their rules. 2018 also saw eight new entries and three re-entries to The List.
Singapore’s Manhattan continued its victorious reign for the second year in a row, remaining in the top spot as Best Bar in Asia and Best Bar in Singapore. For those who haven’t been — it’s the Regent Singapore’s resident watering hole, and has its own rickhouse stocked with housemade barrel-aged spirits and bitters.
Coming in second is Indulge Experimental Bistro in Taipei, followed by Speak Low in Shanghai, Atlas in Singapore, and The Old Man in Hong Kong rounding up the top five. In sixth place, there’s High Five in Tokyo, trailed by Tippling Club in Singapore, Native in Singapore, The Bamboo Bar at M.O. in Bangkok, and Lobster Bar & Grill in Hong Kong at the tenth spot.
It wouldn’t be fair for us to make this whole thing about Manhattan, though. To our other local winners: 28 HongKong Street (#12), Operation Dagger (#19), Gibson (#22), Employees Only (#23), D.bespoke (#32), Nutmeg & Clove (#33), Jigger & Pony (#42), and The Other Room (#50) — congrats to you all.
So, if we’re doing a quick analysis, crunching the numbers (AKA counting) — here are some fun facts: Singapore and China were tied with 12 bars repping each country on the list, while eight bars from Japan, six from Thailand, and four from South Korea were featured.
Elsewhere in our fair region, The Curator Coffee & Cocktails in Manila took 25th spot and maintained its title as Best Bar in Philippines, while Potato Head Beach Club in Bali rose seven places to 36th position to claim the glory of being the Best Bar in Indonesia. As for Malaysia, it was repped by KL’s Junglebird (#38) — which was also named Best Bar in Malaysia — and Coley (#46).
Bangkok’s other winners included Backstage (#13), Vesper (#27), and Teens of Thailand (#44), as well as first-time entries Smalls (#29) and Ku Bar (#49).
The annual list is put together with votes from the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy, a group which the organization describes as: “more than 200 drinks experts, including renowned bartenders and consultants, drinks writers and cocktail specialists from across Asia”.
There you have it. Take the rankings as you will, and if you’re at all curious about the who, what, or why of it all — this feature from The New Yorker covering the process of choosing The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is a great look into how this kind of thing works.