Annual Report: Bartenders' Choice Top 10

04 January, 2016

So, now we know The World’s 50 Best Bars 2015, it’s time to take stock. The World’s 50 Best Bars Annual Report does just that – it tells us the buying habits and cocktail trends of the best bars in the world.

There are myriad qualities that make a great bar great, but perhaps the most tangible is what they put in a glass. This spin-off report offers insight into the brands, spirits and cocktails that in 2015 passed through their hands and into customers’ mouths.

Many thanks to the 100 helpful bartenders and bar owners who took part in the survey. Hopefully their collective testaments, collated and analysed in this report, will act to inform the industry and improve working standards beyond the elite.

First up we have Bartenders' Choice. To find out how we carried out the survey and collated the results read How We Did It.



This is the juice that really gets the world’s best bartenders going. For this list we didn’t want to hear about portfolio contracts and price competitiveness – this one is purely for the purists. To your left are the spirits that make bartenders feel good about the world and the brands, given the choice, they would take to the next.

For the third time in four years, Tanqueray is the object of the world’s best bartenders’ affections – and it’s getting it from all angles. Edmund Weil, owner of London’s Nightjar, says the brand is “simple, elegant and a benchmark for the category”. Nick Kobbernagel Hovind from Lidkoeb in Copenhagen is lovesick. “I couldn’t live without it,” he says.

Head east to Tel Aviv and Ariel Leizgold, second place in World Class 2015 and owner of Bellboy, says the augmented Tanqueray Ten is “classic yet relevant, simple yet complex”.

There is no appropriate segue from global gin brand to handcrafted mezcal. The green bottles of Del Maguey, last year’s Bartenders’ Choice, are still in the good books. Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons in New York thinks that’s because Del Maguey has “integrity, transparency and deliciousness”.

Edoardo Nono of Rita & Cocktails in Milan says the mezcal is starting to get around but “has kept a perfect consistency of quality”. He’s right, the brand has rolled out to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE and Israel. Ásgeir Már Björnsson has even lured the once-hard- to-get Mexican spirit to Slipbarrin in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Making up the podium positions is Zacapa which, despite not being the best-selling rum, is where bartenders’ hearts really lie. With Ketel One, Johnnie Walker and Don Julio also present, Diageo has five brands in the top 10.

That’s a blow to those that portray Diageo as a corporate machine bent on little but profits – it produces liquid bartenders love.

Special mention should go to a newcomer, Fortaleza, in fifth. A Tahona Wheel- produced tequila which has the kind of quality and authenticity that makes bartenders smile.

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