Special Report

The 25 Best Bars in the World

Courtesy of A G. via Yelp

Whether they were seedy, smoky neighborhood joints, raucous watering holes with half a dozen different games playing simultaneously on widescreen TVs, or elegant lounges attached to upscale restaurants or five-star hotels, bars used to be reasonably straightforward places. They stocked a variety and quality of liquors, beers, and maybe wines appropriate to the tastes and budgets of their clientele. All but the most basic ones mixed up classic cocktails, and maybe a few specialties of the house. There might be a jukebox or, on weekends, a live band. These bars were places you went because they were comfortable and familiar — or welcoming, if you’d never been there before.

Those kinds of bars still exist, of course, and are almost certainly still in the majority. But another class of bars has evolved around the world since the latter 20th century. These bars, sometimes styling themselves as “speakeasies” (though of course they’re not), boast high-design decor and exude an air of exclusivity. Some of them won’t let you in unless you have a reservation.

They pride themselves on inventing cocktails never before dreamed of, combining seemingly antithetical spirits in the same glass and incorporating not just herbs and fruit but flowers, tea, chiles, and sometimes other foodstuffs. 

Terms like “artisanal” and “farm to glass” tend to get thrown around, and some bars go so far as to describe the people creating and mixing the drinks as “cocktail chefs.” (If you’re a traditionalist when it comes to imbibing, you might appreciate this list of the world’s 25 most popular cocktails.)

The cocktails these places serve often have imaginative names — Pink Tuxedo, Stone Cold Fashioned, Iggy’s Offspring…. And so do the bars that serve them, which generally aren’t called things like Murphy’s or Dew Drop In, but instead have such monikers as Salmon Guru, Maybe Sammy, and Double Chicken Please.

Those three names, as it happens, belong to three of the 25 best bars in the world — at least according to the just-released ranking of The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023, published by WilliamReed, the U.K.-based digital publisher that also produces The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, along with a number of other associated rankings. 

24/7 Tempo reviewed this year’s bar listing, which concentrates on the new breed of establishments, and extrapolated the top 25, adding our own suggestions for typical cocktails offered by each place. Note that some cocktails may be seasonal, or may move out of rotation to make room for new creations, so these may not always be available.

The first cocktails were likely invented in England, but as one of our country’s leading experts on the subject, author David Woodrich, puts it, “they were roundly reimagined and reinvented in the United States.” It might come as a surprise, then, that only three bars on this list are in the U.S. Ten are in Europe and there are five each in Asia and Latin America, with two Australians rounding out the 25. (Locally, click here for the best local dive bar in every state.)

Here are the 25 best bars in the world

25. Baba au Rum
> Location: Athens
> What to order: Delicious Sour (calvados, Woodford Reserve bourbon, Greek orange wine, peaches


24.Café la Trova
> Location: Miami
> What to order: Mojito Criollo (Flor de Caña 4 rum, lime juice, sugar, mint, soda, bitters


23. Caretaker’s Cottage
> Location: Melbourne
> What to order: Dry Daiquiri (white rum, Campari, passionfruit, lime, citrus oil)

22. Hanky Panky
> Location: Mexico City
> What to order: Spano Negroni (Matusalem Gran Reserva 15 rum, Carpano Rosso vermouth, Bitter Fusetti, verjus, and raspberry shrub


21. Drink Kong
> Location: Rome
> What to order: Orion (The Botanist gin, London Essence Peach & Jasmine Soda, kiwi-banana cordial, Noilly Prat vermouth, Cointreau, citric acid)


20. Coa
> Location: Hong Kong
> What to order: Ancho Highball (tequila blanco, salted plum, ancho chile, guava soda


19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar
> Location: Bangkok
> What to order: Pineapple (gin, vermouth, tepache [Mexican fermented pineapple tea], pineapple and green pepper cordial, pineapple leaf, soda)


18. Zest
> Location: Seoul
> What to order: Cosmos (London dry gin, navy strength gin, peach wine, Alpine dry vermouth, jasmine, champagne vinegar)

17. Overstory
> Location: New York City
> What to order: Pink Tuxedo (vodka, cherry blossom, vermouth, strawberry, absinthe)


16. Salmon Guru
> Location: Madrid
> What to order: Old School Funny (Bombay Sapphire gin, sweet Italian vermouth, Campari, tawny port, amontillado)


15. Maybe Sammy
> Location: Sydney
> What to order: Stone Cold Fashioned (Mr. Black coffee liqueur, Branko plum brandy, Black Noble [fortified botrytized sémillon], apricot brandy)


14. Jigger & Pony
> Location: Singapore
> What to order: Pony Martini (Roku gin, Dolin dry vermouth, Lillet Blanc, Sakura vinegar, lemon twist)


13. BKK Social Club
> Location: Bangkok
> What to order: Evita (Plantation pineapple rum, Campari, Aperol, citrus mix, bay leaf, cinnamon syrup)

12. Line
> Location: Athens
> What to order: South Side (Bulldog gin, St. Germain, mint, cucumber, lemon, coriander)


11. Tres Monos
> Location: Buenos Aires
> What to order: Dolce & Banana (Jim Beam bourbon, dulce de leche, banana, coconut)


10. Himkok
> Location: Oslo
> What to order: Red Currant (house-distilled caraway vodka, sherry, red currants, peppers)


9. Alquímico
> Location: Cartagena, Colombia
> What to order: Té Caribeño (Tanqueray Rangpur gin, Maraschino liqueur, green tea infusion, dehydrated coconut, Cape gooseberries, lime juice)


8. Tayēr + Elementary
> Location: London
> What to order: Clamato Bloody Mary (Tayēr x Hepple gin, Ocho blanco tequila, Empirical Pasilla Sauce, Tabasco, Clamato)

7. Licorería Limantour
> Location: Mexico City
> What to order: Vicuña (The Lost Explorer Espadín mezcal, Chilean pisco, smoked pineapple juice.)


6. Little Red Door
> Location: Paris
> What to order: Iggy’s Offspring (Merlet Brothers Blend cognac, Dolin dry vermouth, Hwayo soju, Combier kummel)


5. Connaught Bar
> Location: London
> What to order: Vieux Connaught (Ron Santiago de Cuba 11 rum, The Singleton of Glendullan 12-year-old single malt scotch, Bénédictine, Angostura bitters, orange bitters, saffron smoke


4. Paradiso
> Location: Barcelona
> What to order: Voyage (Ketel One vodka, Amaro Santoni, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto [bergamot liqueur], lemon, blueberries, raspberries)


3. Handshake Speakeasy
> Location: Mexico City
> What to order: Matcha Yuzu (Toki Japanese whisky, matcha, yuzu, vanilla, whey)

2. Double Chicken Please
> Location: New York City
> What to order: #4 (shochu, lemongrass, gentian, plum green tea)


1. Sips
> Location: Barcelona
> What to order: El Sabor de Brasil (cachaça, Fernet, coffee liqueur, banana)

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