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The 50 best bars in Asia: This year’s list is again dominated by two cities

Asia has more than 30 cities with populations greater than five million people, yet only two can lay claim to the top bar on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.

Every year since the list’s inception, the continent’s best-ranked bar has been in either Hong Kong or Singapore.

The annual ranking is organized by William Reed Media, which also publishes The World’s Best Bars and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

“Asia’s 50 Best Bars was the first and is currently the only regional 50 Best ranking, with the inaugural list announced in 2016,” said Mark Sansom, the list’s content editor. “Asia has a huge variety of brilliant bars and cities that we felt needed recognizing as some of the leading cocktail capitals in the world.”

The ‘best bar’ in Asia

Bars that ranked No. 1

Year Bar Location
201628 HongKong StreetSingapore
2017Manhattan                    Singapore
2018ManhattanSingapore
2019The Old ManHong Kong
2020Jigger & PonySingapore
2021CoaHong Kong
Source: Asia’s 50 Best Bars

The full list

“This method… means that bars cannot apply to be on the list, cannot be nominated, and no external influences (from William Reed or our sponsors) can influence the list,” reads 50 Best’s website.  

The process also provides space for newcomers and opportunity for movement among the rankings, both of which are apparent on the 2021 list:

1. Coa, Hong Kong
2. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
3. The SG Club, Tokyo
4. Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei, Taiwan
5. Sober Company, Shanghai
6. Manhattan, Singapore
7. Atlas, Singapore
8. No Sleep Club, Singapore new
9. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
10. Caprice Bar, Hong Kong — No. 34 in 2020
11. The Bamboo Bar, Bangkok
12. Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
13. Charles H, Seoul, South Korea — No. 29 in 2020
14. Native, Singapore
15. Hope & Sesame, Guangzhou, China — No. 36 in 2020
16. Sidecar, New Delhi — No. 40 in 2020
17. Bar Mood, Taipei, Taiwan
18. Bee’s Knees, Kyoto, Japan
19. Room By Le Kief, Taipei, Taiwan
20. The Diplomat, Hong Kong new
21. 28 HongKong Street, Singapore
22. Tropic City, Bangkok
23. Tell Camellia, Hong Kong new
24. Aha Saloon, Taipei, Taiwan
25. Quinary, Hong Kong
26. The Pontiac, Hong Kong
27. High Five, Tokyo
28. The Wise King, Hong Kong
29. Barbary Coast, Singapore new
30. Penicillin, Hong Kong new
31. Union Trading Company, Shanghai
32. Speak Low, Shanghai
33. Union Brasserie, Bakery & Bar, Jakarta, Indonesia
34. Bar Cham, Seoul, South Korea
35. Backstage Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
36. Tippling Club, Singapore — No. 17 in 2020  
37. Junglebird, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
38. The Curator, Manila, Philippines
39. D.Bespoke, Singapore — No. 23 in 2020
40. Darkside, Hong Kong new
41. Alice, Seoul, South Korea
42. The Old Man, Singapore — No. 22 in 2020
43. Bar Trench, Tokyo
44. Le Chamber, Seoul, South Korea
45. MO Bar, Singapore
46. Vesper, Bangkok — No. 11 in 2020
47. Three X Co, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia new
48. Teens of Thailand, Bangkok
49. Sago House, Singapore new
50. Star Bar, Tokyo

Of the eight bars making their first appearance on the list, half are in Hong Kong, the most of any city in Asia. That doesn’t surprise John Nugent, co-founder of The Diplomat, a speakeasy-style bar in Hong Kong’s Central district which, at No. 20, was the highest ranking new bar to open in Asia this year.

“Hong Kong has always been a city willing to push the envelope,” he told CNBC Travel. “We have seen and will continue to see fun, interesting and exciting bars in the near future.”

New in 2021: the expanded list

Despite its name, Asia’s 50 Best Bars published an expanded list of bars that ranked from 51 to 100 this year, a first for the organization.

“The 51-100 list gives us the opportunity to recognize a greater number of amazing bars, especially during this difficult period for the hospitality industry,” said Sansom. “It was great to see new destinations such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam appear for the first time on the list.”

Plus, he said consumers now have “double the choice of expert-approved drinking destinations” as they make travel plans in the months ahead.

Hong Kong has three bars on the extended list:

  • 54. The Old Man — No. 2 on last year’s list
  • 65. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana
  • 68. The Shady Acres 

Singapore has six:

  • 66. Gibson
  • 70. Employees Only
  • 71. Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall 
  • 75. Live Twice
  • 79. The Other Room
  • 82. Junior The Pocket Bar

Individual awards

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