Honouring a Bartender Handshake

Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto represent Canada’s hot bar scene at North America’s 50 Best Bars 2024 in Mexico.

Vancouver’s Botanist Bar was number 24 at north America’s 50 Best bars 2024. Supplied photo

On a balmy night in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a new North America’s Best Bar 2024 was crowned: Handshake Speakeasy in Mexico City. At the same time, 2024 represented a strong showing for Canadian bars, with seven places landing on the list from the Great White North. Dozens of Canadians representing several bars made the trip to San Miguel de Allende for the ceremony, busily making plans for collabs, guest shifts and pop-ups with their North American and global colleagues in attendance.

Vancouver’s Laowai was announced among just three finalists among hundreds of contenders in the hotly contested Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award. Laowai’s lavishly illustrated menus, with cocktails embodying Chinese historical figures and stories, are so popular they’re often swiped (and go on sale from the bar every time the menu changes — which it will again soon).

Toronto’s Civil Liberties is the top bar in Canada, ranked number 21 at North America’s 50 Best Bars awards. Supplied photo

For the third year in a row, menu-free bespoke cocktail den Civil Liberties in Toronto was Best Bar in Canada, an award presented by Naked Malt: it ranked highest of the canuck entries at number 21. Also in Toronto, Bar Pompette ranked number 29 (number 15 last year) and Bar Mordecai ranked number 40 (number 43 last year).

Author and bartender and the founder of Evelyn Chick Projects accepted the Campari One to Watch Award. Her all-day cocktail and snack bar and Simpl Things got the nod as a bar that the 50 Best organization believes has the potential to appear on future rankings.

In Vancouver, Botanist Bar placed in the top half at number 24 (it ranked 19 last year, when it received the prestigious Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award as well). The Keefer Bar re-entered the list at number 49 after previous rankings and a brief absence last year.

Montreal’s Cloakroom came in at number 39. Supplied photo

Three Montreal bars also placed: Cloakroom at number 39 and Atwater Cocktail Club at number 50, with Atwater’s Kate Boushel winning the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award.

The awards on April 23 were the highlight of a multi-day celebration in San Miguel de Allende, including a Bartender’s Feast the previous night, featuring drink stations from global bar stars like Kate Gerwin from Happy Accidents Albuquerque, New Mexico, a competitor on the Netflix show Drink Masters; and a Closing Party on April 24.

—by Charlene Rooke

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