Botanist Bar helps put Vancouver on the map

Photo courtesy of 50 Best Bars

North America’s 50 Best Bars were revealed on May 4 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico—a list that included seven Canadian entries, including one bar from B.C. New York’s innovative foodie-cocktail hotspot Double Chicken Please was named North America’s Best Bar.

Vancouver’s Botanist Bar entered the list for the first time at #19. It also won the prestigious Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award (announced a few weeks prior to this year’s ceremony): all 260 members of the bar academy vote on the hospitality award, giving a nod to the place where each voter experienced the best service over the past 18 months. Grant Sceney, creative beverage director at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, and Jeff Savage, Botanist’s head bartender, were on site at the awards in San Miguel de Allende, wearing the vivid red scarves that denoted winning bars and bartenders among the crowd of hundreds of revellers.

Grant Sceney and Jeff Savage wear the red scarves that denote winning bars and bartenders. photo

Other Canadian first-timers on the list included Toronto’s Bar Pompette (#15) and Montreal’s Atwater Cocktail Club (#32). They joined Canadian veterans Cloakroom in Montreal (#35) and Toronto’s Bar Mordecai (#43) and Mother (#37). Civil Liberties in Toronto was #12, and also named the Best Bar in Canada for the second year. (Vancouver’s Keefer Bar, #25 last year, was not on the 2023 list.)

Last year the awards were in New York, and in their second year North America’s Best Bars moved its ceremony to Mexico, reflecting the very strong showing of Mexico bars in the 2022 awards. This year 14 Mexico bars are on the list, including eight in Mexico City. The U.S. had 28 entries on the list, including 12 in New York.

This year’s location for the three-day series of events and celebrations is UNESCO World Heritage Site San Miguel de Allende. In the days leading up to the awards bartenders, bar owners, drinks influencers and judges explored the mezcalarias, restaurants, rooftop bars and tasting rooms of the luxe heritage city. A Bartenders’ Feast on the eve of the awards, and a night of glam red-carpet arrivals and a drinks reception, preceded the countdown from No.50 to No.1.

Launched in 2022 by the same U.K.-based organization that runs the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and the World’s 50 Best Bars, North America’s 50 Best Bars uses a similar, rigorous voting system. The Academy is divided into eight North American voting regions, and each has its own panel of voters, curated by an Academy Chair. The Chairs each then select a balanced voting panel, including bar professionals, media, influencers, drinks aficionados and other unbiased industry experts.

—by Charlene Rooke, Academy Chair, Canada West, 50 Best Bars

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