We’d like to raise our glass and give a hearty toast to the 50 Best Bars of 2016, as determined by an academy of over 450 experts from across the world. Whether you’re popping in for a craft cocktail or a cold microbrew you can do no wrong by wetting your whistle at one of these exceptional watering holes. However, should you go hunting for only the tippy top shelf bar experience in 2016 we duly suggest planning a trip to either New York or London whereas the two cities occupy literally 90% of the top 10. And coming in at #12 is Sydney’s own Baxter Inn. Go, Baxter Inn! Yeah, we’ve definitely been kicked out of there a few times. Kidding, kidding. Read on for a breakdown of the top 10 followed by a list of the remaining 40.
1. The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, New York
Manhattan might be getting gentrified into oblivion but that doesn’t have to mean the complete eradication of culture and history. At this Irish-American two-story libation destination in the financial district, the city’s rowdy past is brought to life by way of beloved alcohol and the tale of John Morrissey, notorious leader of the Dead Rabbit Gang in the mid-1800s. Morrissey’s story is merely one part of Dead Rabbit’s voluminous menu, which also includes 72 “historically accurate” cocktails as well as some killer food to appease power lunching stockbrokers and tourists alike.
2. American Bar, London
Europe’s best bar has made the top ten list every year since 2011 but its story goes back way further than that. American Bar is a veritable institution that’s been saucing classy Brits for 125 years. However, don’t mistake this hotspot for some ongoing relic clinging to its own history in order to remain hip–it keeps at least one foot squarely in the present if not the future by routinely shifting its menus to reflect the ongoing shifting nature of the city herself. Now that’s how you remain timeless.
3. Dandelyan, London
The landmark bar at Mondrian Hotel gives mixology enough magnitude to render it worthy of a college thesis. That’s all thanks to bartending maestros Ryan Chetiyawardana and Iain Griffiths, who take a supremely intensive approach toward alcohol in all its glory and potential. With these two wizards at the helm anything is possible. Most recently that “anything” equated to a menu broken down into sections like “hunter” and “shaman” and drinks representing “the effect botany has had on historical civilisations”. What, you thought we were kidding about that whole “college thesis” thing?
4. Connaught Bar, London
The Connaught Bar thrives on remaining somewhat approachable within the confines of an upscale atmosphere. That means fancy interior decoration and premium drinks but also a relaxed vibe that consistently puts the “spirit” in spirits. Nevertheless, the adjoining Connaught Hotel’s exceptionally high standards of hospitality still reverberate so expect some pampering along with that stiff martini.
5. Attaboy, New York
What an omakase dinner is to sushi lovers, Attaboy is to cocktail lovers. The passion-bred watering hole does away with menus entirely and leaves you 100% in the bartender’s hands. No wonder Attaboy has a major following among service industry professionals–it takes a great palate to recognize one.
6. The Gibson, London
The Gibson has only been open for a year, making its debut on the list at #6 all the more impressive. And how did the stellar drinking haven manage to carve out a name for itself so quickly? One word: ingredients. The speakeasy-themed bar uses a slew of truly outside-the-box ingredients–from barrel-aged balsamic vinegar syrup to quails’ eggs–to craft cocktails that you won’t find or taste anywhere else in the world. Pair that with a nifty vintage mash-up décor and both a name and building rife with its own built-in history, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a great place to drink!
7. Employees Only, New York
Walk past a fortune-teller storefront and venture into this renowned speakeasy that continues to capture the drinking zeitgest year after year. Employees Only is like a perfectly executed greatest hits compilation of everything that’s made getting your drink on so irresistible since the turn of the last century. But that greatest hits comp includes some killer bonus tracks and by that we mean modern cocktails invented right there at the bar that have joined the small but prestigious legion of tried and true classics. Rounding out the old-meets-new school charm is hearty and delicious food, a painstakingly awesome décor and handsome bartenders dressed in clean white jackets. Like all great bars then and now, Employees Only is also apparently a superb place to meet the opposite sex.
8. Nomad Bar, New York
Tucked away in the same general area that gave birth to drinks like the Manhattan and Rob Roy is this dimly lit, sophisticated speakeasy. The vibe here is classic New York through and through, elevated by a one-two punch of immaculate cocktails and world-class cuisine. And when we say “world class cuisine” we’re not kidding–Chef Daniel Humm of legendary Eleven Madison Park created the food menu. Nomad Bar personifies timeless style with near surgical precision.
9. The Clumsies, Athens
Someone alert the academy and tell them they’ve made a grave error! There’s a bar in the top ten that’s not located in New York or London. Actually that’s not a glitch in the matrix but the relatively new, instantly classic hotel bar The Clumsies. This outrageously popular locale has made a palatable impression thanks to a stellar, shape-shifting cocktail menu and a healthy rotation of top-class bartenders from all over the world. The Clumsies is not only a premier drinking and party destination at night, but it also doubles as a terrific breakfast and lunch spot when the sun is out, making it the perfect place to pass your entire day while in Athens. Screw the Acropolis.
10. Happiness Forgets, London
Sanity returns to the top ten as we journey back to London to visit Happiness Forgets, an unpretentious bar that prides itself on consistently remarkable service and straightforward, extraordinary cocktails. If you’re looking for a no frills, reliable, plainly awesome drinking experience then look no further. In spite of its name, this is a happiness you’re bound to remember as long as you keep it to six drinks or less.
Here are the remaining 40:
11. Manhattan – Singapore
12. The Baxter Inn – Sydney (woo hoo!)
13. Licoreria Limantour – Mexico City
14. 28 Hongkong Street – Singapore
15. Speak Low – Shanghai
16. The Broken Shaker – Miami Beach
17. Candelaria – Paris
18. Tales & Spirits – Amsterdam
19. Nightjar – London
20. Maison Premiere – New York
21. Operation Dagger – Singapore
22. Black Pearl – Melbourne
23. High Five – Tokyo
24. Little Red Door – Paris
25. Linje Tio – Stockholm
26. Central Station – Beirut
27. Lobster Bar & Grill – Hong Kong
28. Mace – New York
29. Smuggler’s Cove – San Francisco
30. Bar Termini – London
31. La Factoria – Puerto Rico
32. Oriole – London
33. The Jerry Thomas Project – Rome
34. Dante – New York
35. Trick Dog – San Francisco
36. ABV – San Francisco
37. The Walker Inn – Los Angeles
38. Nottingham Forest – Milan
39. Aviary – Chicago
40. Baba Au Rum – Athens
41. Quinary – Hong Kong
42. Himkok – Oslo
43. Lost + Found – Cyprus
44. Ruby – Copenhagen
45. PDT – New York
46. Bulletin Place – Sydney
47. Bramble – Edinburgh
48. Callooh Callay – London
49. Floreria Atlantico – Buenos Aires
50. Buck & Breck – Berlin