As London Cocktail Week draws to a close for another year, our city played host last night to the fifth annual World’s 50 Best Bar Awards, the increasingly prestigious industry knees-up recognising the globe’s crème de la crème of cocktail making.
It won’t come as a surprise to many that London has a world-class bar scene that’s hard to beat, but London refused to comfortably win last night in favour of wiping the floor with the world. Proverbially speaking, at least.
Artesian, set within the historic Langham Hotel near Oxford Circus scooped the top spot for the second year running, with barman Alex Kratena winning praise for his simultaneous expertise in perfectly crafted classics and some maverick modern interpretations such as a lemongrass-smoked Bloody Mary and a punch made with slightly poisonous scorpion tail.
Darkly atmospheric Old Street bar The Nightjar took the number 2 spot, making it a double-win for London, while The Connaught Bar’s placing at number 4 and a rise from 12 last year to 6th place for Hoxton Square’s ultra-hip Happiness Forgets meant the top ten was a very London affair.
Elsewhere, Callooh Callay took spot 11; The American Bar at The Savoy took no. 20; Tony Conigliaro’s 69 Colebrooke Row took 27th place; and Zetter Townhouse - masterminded by the same man - took no. 34.
A bit of number crunching reveals that while London had eight bars in the top 50 and four in the top 10, nearest rival New York could manage just seven in the list, with only one in the top 10. Paris and Sydney both got four bars into the list; Singapore, San Francisco, Berlin, Barcelona and Moscow each had two bars in the list; and Tokyo had just one, coming it at no. 3.
Putting our cocktail-fuelled, London-loving glee to one side for just a moment, we must make reference to the fact that these awards are British born and bred, and that there were whispers to be heard at the ceremony of some uncertainty as to just how globally democratic the results can be considered. The processes and team of voters (from almost 40 different countries) are clearly discussed on the awards site, so we’re not suggesting anything cloak and dagger, but perhaps the obvious necessity for the panel to have visited every bar they vote for results in a city they are more familiar with ending up higher on the list. Who knows?
What’s for sure is that the accolades received are very much deserved, and that London’s cocktail scene has never been more exciting. From plush hotel bars almost worth mortgaging your sole for, to cool underground speakeasies, pop-ups and some of the highest-up drinking spots in the world, we are leading the way where cocktails are concerned. And we reckon it would be bloody rude not to make the most of that, so get drinking. If you have a London Cocktail Week wristband, you can still get £4 cocktails in over 150 bars around the city until the end of this weekend, just in case you needed an incentive.