World's 50 Best Bars Brands Report: Aperitifs and Digestifs

05 February, 2014

For the latest instalment of the Brands Report, we quizzed the class of 2013 on the aperitfis and digestifs brands moving through their bars.

We polled 100 of the top 250 bars that recieved votes in our World’s 50 Best Bars 2013 survey.

We asked which are the best sellers and which brands are catching the imaginations of consumers for the trending list.

Don't forget to check out the results for ginvodka, rumTequilaliqueurs/bittersScotchWorld Whiskies and Brandy.


An aperitif is a cocktail served before a meal and its job is to stimulate the appetite. Sophisticated imbibers in France and Italy (aperitivo) made the drink popular and many of the bitter or vermouth ingredients used in aperitifs hail from one of these countries. 

Italian bitters Campari is king of the aperitifs list, no doubt because of its place in the Negroni. The cocktail dates back to 1919 when Count Negroni asked for a bit of extra strength in his regular drink – Campari, vermouth rosso and soda. He switched the soda for gin and, hey presto, the Negroni was born. We are extremely grateful, Count Negroni. 

That also partly explains why there are so many gins on the list – it is key to the mighty Martini, one of the greatest aperitif cocktails ever. 

There are several theories about the beginnings of the Martini and one is that it is an evolution of the Martinez, but not everyone agrees. 

Oh, and you can even make it with vodka – hello Ketel One.


After-dinner drinks usually err on the dark side and this list is testament to that – with three exceptions, all others are whiskies. 

Top of the tree is Fernet Branca, making it a double for Italian bitters. Fernet Branca is a bitter liqueur made from 27 herbs. 

The actual recipe is shrouded in secrecy but the brand will tell you that the 27 ingredients come from five continents. That narrows it down… 

The drink ages for one year in oak and it has a real following in the bar industry. Fernet Branca is so popular in Argentina that the Milan-based company has a distillery in Buenos Aires to quench the Argentinian thirst for Fernet Branca, where it is largely consumed with cola. 

Fernet was top of the list last year, too but the rest of the list looked very different. 

It was not dominated by whisky. Cognac had a better showing and there were liqueurs and even a gin. Does this indicate a wider shift to whisky consumption? 

Only time and bank balances will tell.  

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