In a happy coincidence, the host city for The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022 is also home to The World’s Best Bar, Paradiso—and two more bars in the top 10. From the Western Canadian Academy Chair for the awards, here’s the rundown on some of this year’s other big winners.
“If you build it, they will come” could have been the tagline for the 10th anniversary of The World’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony, held in Barcelona on October 4. It has been a buzzy cocktail destination for the last several years—and particularly during the pandemic, when Spain remained relatively open to tourists. Building on that strong foundation, the city has scored bragging rights for The World’s Best Bar of 2022: Paradiso. Also placing in the top 10 were the city’s beloved Two Schmucks (#7) and Sips (which had the most impressive rise from last year’s list, up 34 places this year to #3).
In the days before the awards ceremony and even prior to the big reveal, Paradiso was already the talk of the town and the hottest industry hang. It hosted drinks colleagues and influencers for a preview of The Evolution Menu: its latest dazzling innovations included a drink for which some ingredients are filtered through the pot of a living plant. First named One to Watch at the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2017, it has steadily marched up the list from #37 in 2019 to #20 in 2020 and to #3 last year.
Typically held in London, the awards will likely move around in the future to other different host cities that have trendsetting bar and hospitality culture. The World’s 50 Best organization was quick to clarify on its website that, “We selected Barcelona due its nature as a cosmopolitan cocktail capital and well-established links with gastronomy and fine drinking,” long in advance of the judging, and that “This has no correlation to the list.”
Bartenders, bar owners and enthusiasts from around the world converged on Barcelona for the October 1 start of the city’s first-ever Cocktail Week—a week-long festival more pop-ups, guest shifts, collaborations and special events than you can shake a mixing tin at. Always known for its old-school bars like Boadas (the city’s oldest, pouring ribbons since 1933), these days Barcelona hotspots are also serving cutting-edge cocktails made using techniques from fat-washing and centrifuging to creates elements like foams, bubbles, mists and more.
Although no Canadian bars landed in the top 50 (or even the top 100), but traveling cocktailians will likely be familiar with some of the winning global establishments, like Licoreria Limantour (#4) and Hanky Panky (#13) in Mexico City, Little Red Door in Paris (#5) and several New York Bars (Katana Kitten, Attaboy, Overstory, Dante and Employees Only). The elegant Connaught Bar in London, named the world’s top bar in both 2020 and 2021, clung this year to #8, but also bagged an Industry Icon Award for its director of mixology, Agostino Perrone.
This year’s list was more truly international than ever before. In a nod to the rise of African cocktail culture, a handful of bars in Cape Town, Nairobi and Johannesburg landed in the top 100. In South America, so did Buenos Aires and Bogota bars, with Cartagena’s Alquímico earning Best Bar in South America and #10 in the World.
In normally bumping bar markets like Shanghai or Singapore, a relatively low number of winning places this year reflected pandemic-related travel restrictions that kept away travellers, including the bar-industry experts and insiders who vote on the awards. (The awards are selected by an international panel of hundreds of anonymous voters, who must have visited all bars they vote for within recent months.)
Explore the full list of The World’s Top 50 Bars in this video:
—by Charlene Rooke