DI Annual Bar Report: Water

27 January, 2017

It’s always on tap, but consumers like to name-call water as much as any spirit, says Hamish Smith

In the region of 300m billion litres and worth $170bn a year, the bottled water sector is worth talking about. Like never before has hydration been so important to the modern consumer and in the bar, where dehydration has been known to occur, it’s an essential part of the offering.

While it’s true most good bars offer tap or filtered water, customers are still drawn to water brands in the same way they are spirits. More than any other, says our poll, San Pellegrino.

As the long-time sponsor of The World’s 50 Best Bars stable-mate, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, San Pellegrino has a track record of supporting the on-trade. Its presence isn’t only strong in the restaurant market, but here too in the elite bar market. It was named by our worldwide polled bars as one of the top-three stocked waters in more bars than any other brand worldwide.

Sparkling water is clearly the preferred style among our polled bars. In a close second was Perrier, which has made an effort to engage with bartenders in recent years with its Mixology by Perrier campaign. San Pellegrino may want to watch Perrier’s progress in the bar world, as our trending list – so often a window to the future – puts Perrier as the hot brand right now.

Acqua Panna is now a regular at the top of this list, with podium finishes in each of the past three years, while Evian, more of an off-trade brand, drops from fourth to seventh.



The Drinks International Annual Bar Report looks to gauge the buying habits of the best bars in the world by conducting a survey of their owners, head bartenders and bar managers.

The bars that took part – what we refer to as the best bars in the world – are a sample of 108 bars that finished in the top 250 places of the World’s 50 Best Bars survey, now owned by William Reed Business Media. Given the depth and scope of The World’s 50 Best Bars poll (voted for by 476 global bar experts) we feel this is the most credible place to source our sample of bars.

In each instance we asked the bartender to rank their three best selling products in each category, giving us an indication of the brands that are selling best.

As we know, a best selling brand, even in the best bars in the world, earns its place on more than taste, so we also wanted to know the brands that are not necessarily doing huge volumes but have cool-appeal right now. This is where the Trending brands come in. These are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth, or even on bartenders’ recommendations.

For more on the methodology see How we did it

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Tess Posthumus

Staffing crisis could open opportunities

The pandemic has thrown many challenges at bar owners over the past couple of years and the ones that survived the various lockdowns and restrictions deserve a pat on the back. However, while revenues are returning and bars are beginning to recruit once more, we’ve come up against a whole new set of problems, one of which is a global starring crisis.