Get ready for anything

15 September, 2016

The World’s 50 Best Bars editor, Hamish Smith, gives us a preview of what to expect when the ranking is revealed on October 6


IT’S THAT TIME again – by the end of the first week of October, we will know the ranking of the World’s 50 Best Bars. The annual ceremony, which sees presenters David Wondrich and Tom Sandham count down from 50-1, has become the hot ticket of the year. It is the annual meet of the industry elite, with members of 44 of the 50 bars attending last year. At time of writing that looks likely to be bettered for 2016. Demand for places at Christ Church Spitalfields, London, easily outstrips supply but, for the first time, a live stream of the event will be available through Facebook Live. Watch the drama unfold from @50BestBars, or follow the countdown updates on Twitter or Facebook on #50bestbars.

So what can we expect this year? Well, as ever, the bars are globally strewn, emanating from 26 cities in 20 countries. This worldly spread is key – with each bar offering something different to the industry melting pot of styles and approaches.

From Latin America we have bars hailing from Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Old San Juan (Puerto Rico), a bar from Beirut represents Africa & Middle East while Asia has seven bars on the list – including a first from Shanghai. Australasia is where you’ll find three of the top 50, while North America has contributed 14 bars to the 2016 list, coming from five US cities. Europe, a traditional stronghold of the The World’s 50 Best Bars, is home to 22 bars from 12 cities, including bars from Oslo and Stockholm for the first time.

To be a member of this 50-strong pantheon – voted for by 482 of the industry’s foremost bar experts – is an accolade like no other but, of course, the ranking provides that extra layer of intrigue. For the past four years, the poll has seen the same winner – Artesian. There had been calls for The Langham bar to be retired into a hall of fame to gives others a chance – something we always disagreed with. If a ranking isn’t meritocratic then it’s not a ranking, is what we’ve always said. Besides, we are mere vote counters – it’s not our job to pull a high card out of the pack, it’s up to the industry to trump it.

In the end, nature took its course – after a quartet of wins, the bar team of Artesian left, ending a chapter in the industry and, as we found out recently, The World’s 50 Best Bars. Artesian, didn’t achieve the votes required to make the 50 this year.

So unless PDT – champion from 2011 – takes top spot, we will have a new winner for 2016. It certainly seems an open field looking down at the names of the 50 – with 11 new entries and four re-entries joining the 35 bars from 2015. Expect fireworks… but I’ve said enough. You’ll have to turn up (with an invitation), tune in (Facebook Live), or turn on those Twitter updates to find how The World’s 50 Best Bars played out in 2016.

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Tess Posthumus

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