The best place to drink in the world right now is Barcelona. Specifically, a slip of a cocktail bar called Sips, a pastel-colored space, turns out elaborately designed cocktails.
That’s the determination of voters in the World’s 50 Best Bar list, which named Sips as the best bar in the world for 2023, replacing another Barcelona watering hole, Paradiso.
Placement on a World’s 50 Best list has proven to be a powerful marketing tool for establishments. The results for restaurants can be striking: When El Cellar de Can Roca in Spain was named No. 1 on the World’s 50 restaurant list in 2013, it reported fielding 2 million reservation requests. An appearance on the bar list also draws attention. Double Chicken Please, which ranked No. 6 on last year’s international list and No. 1 on the best North America bars list, now has lines down the block when the doors open. “It’s good for business,” says William Drew, director of content at 50 Best. “Of course it increases attention.”
Sips serves cocktails such as Queens, the drink that proclaims “Membrillo is the new black” about the sweet quince paste. The drink is a build of Tanqueray No. Ten gin, with vermouth, the quince paste and more.
This year’s event took place Tuesday in Singapore at the event space Pasir Panjang Power Station in the docklands. It was the first time in the 15 years of the world’s best bars list that the awards took place in Asia. (For 13 years, the awards were based in London; not coincidentally London bars tended to dominate the list. Last year, the event was in Barcelona.) “For us, the most exciting thing is this is the first time we’ve hosted this event outside Europe, and to do it here in Singapore, in Asia, is a big step,” says William Drew, director of content at 50 Best.
Last year’s No. 1 bar, Paradiso, a theatrical drinks spot hidden behind a white refrigerator door in a pastrami shop in Barcelona, placed No. 4. “It’s been an amazing recognition from all the industry,” said owner Giacomo Giannotti. “It’s incredible exposure for the bar.
It was also a good night for New York City: The outrageously popular Double Chicken Please ranked No. 2. The dual-themed bar has ready-to-drink cocktails in the front and food-oriented drinks in the more ambitious back room—like Cold Pizza, made with blanco tequila, parmesan cheese, burnt toast, tomato, honey and whipped egg white.
Renowned mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, whose London bar Dandelyan was No. 1 in 2018, says awards like 50 Best are good for recognition, though they don’t necessarily affect the bottom line. “Any award body can add to the momentum of a venue, “ he says. “However, it is absolutely not the be all and end all.” What’s more, he says, it doesn’t necessarily mean bigger profits for the bar. “In each of the bars, and each of the awards we’ve won, nothing has changed in terms of our business on the back of an accolade.”
In advance of today’s announcement, last week the 50 Best organization released the list of Nos. 51 to 100 best bars in the world. Notable spots on the list included the first-ever bar from Albania, Nouvelle Vague (No. 86). Tulum, Mexico also has its first drinks spot, Arca (No. 60.) The news wasn’t as good for a couple of US spots: Attaboy, the popular NY speakeasy, dropped from No. 22 to No. 57. Chicago’s Kumiko fell more than 50 places to No. 82 from No. 25.
The group also gives regional awards. The Yacht Club in Denver, Colorado, won an award earlier this year for the most sustainable bar in North America. The establishment turns fruit peels and scraps into the base for syrups and shrubs and eschews single use containers. It's terrific, and unconventional cocktail list includes the signature H.V.R. Water, an ode to Hidden Valley Ranch dressing; the ingredient list for the clarified drink includes silver tequila with lemon, black pepper and dill.
“Smaller markets are often overlooked,” says Mary Allison Wright, co-owner of the Yacht Club, about the cities that 50 Best voters don’t often visit. “Denver is such an incredible city but still so vastly underrepresented in terms of a national or (especially) an international platform, so it is unbelievably special to be able to represent our home and share the good word about the American west.”
Michter’s Art of Hospitality award went to Tres Monos in Buenos Aires, which offers affordably priced drinks in a sociable setting.
The list is produced by the World’s 50 Best organisation, which also create lists for the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants and the inaugural 50 Best Hotels. The lists are owned by the UK-based company, William Reed Business Media. Votes were cast by 680 drinks experts based around the world, including writers, bartenders and bar owners.
1. Sips, Barcelona (3)
2. Double Chicken Please, New York (6)
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City (11)
4. Paradiso, Barcelona (1)
5. Connaught Bar, London (8)
6. Little Red Door, Paris (5)
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City (4)
8. Tayēr Elementary, London (2)
9. Alquimico, Cartagena (10)
10. Himkok, Oslo (43)
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires (27)
12. Line, Athens (31)
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok (14)
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore (12)
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney (29)
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid (15)
17. Overstory, New York (34)
18. Zest, Seoul (*)
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok (*)
20. Coa, Hong Kong (17)
21. Drink Kong, Rome (16)
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City (13)
23. Caretakers Cottage, Melbourne (60)
24. Cafe la Trova, Miami (21)
25. Baba au Rhum, Athens (20)
26. Cochinchina, Buenos Aires (42)
27. Katana Kitten, New York (9)
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London (23)
29. Wax On, Berlin (*)
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires (18)
31. Roda Huset, Stockholm (78)
32. Sago House, Singapore (*)
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome (*)
34. Argo, Hong Kong (28)
35. A Bar with Shapes for a Name, London (37)
36. SG Club, Tokyo (63)
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo (48)
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris (*)
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh (*)
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai (*)
41. Scarfes Bar, London (*)
42. 1930, Milan (35)
43. Carnaval, Lima (44)
44. L’Antiquario, Naples (46)
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City (32)
46. Locale Firenze, Florence (39)
47. The Clumsies, Athens (19)
48. Atlas, Singapore (67)
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans (*)
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai (45)