brands report drinks international how we did it

Brands Report 2020: How we did it

08 January, 2020

The Brands Report is a snapshot of the buying habits of the best bars in the world.

We’re interested in branded products, but also the classic cocktails that elite bartenders are making and the spirits categories they make them with. Our rankings are the result of a poll of more than 100 global bars. The field is narrow for good reason – the object is not to gain a wide and vague insight but to target the world’s best bars. Which are defined how, I hear you ask. Well, this description comes with a definition: the world’s best bars are those that have been shortlisted in the past three years for major awards globally.

So, our bars are either winners of or nominees from worldwide awards such as The Word’s 50 Best Bars (1-100) and Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards; regional awards such as Asia’s 50 Best Bars, Drink Magazine’s Bar Awards, Germany’s Mixology Awards; and countrywide awards: the Class Bar Awards, Australian Bartender Awards and the Time Out Awards from various markets around the world.

In Latin America, where no major awards bodies exist, editor Hamish Smith has solicited the recommendations of local bar gurus and drinks journalists. This methodology means our pool of bars is ever changing, tracking to success stories of the industry. Of course a balance has to be found between narrowing in on the parts of the world where the most elite bars exist and achieving a global geographical spread. This year 109 bars took part in the survey, drawn from 38 countries around the world. As you’d expect, markets with a high concentration of high-end bars are represented accordingly, with the likes of the US, UK and Australia `contributing the most to the survey.


We ask bar owners, head bartenders and bar managers to open up their spreadsheets and divulge their bars’ buying habits. Each respondent was asked to rank their three bestselling products in each spirit category (plus selected wine, beer, modi ers and mixers). A bestselling 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 lists come in. Within these tables are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth or even on bartenders’ recommendations.

Often the brands that figure highly in the Trending list move on to the Bestselling list the following year, as curiosity and excitement transitions to volume of sales. The Bartenders’ Choice list is where we see what bartenders themselves prize most, irrespective of what sells best or what is trending. So, brands here have the kudos of bartender love, if not necessarily sales.

But, if our website viewing numbers are anything to go by, The World’s Bestselling Classics section is the list with the widest appeal. Here we see classics paradoxically do go in and out of fashion – our list of 50 is slow moving but trends do show up. We finish with the Spirits list, where we track the hot categories in the elite bar, finishing after gin, naturally. While these lists are only snapshots – by no means bottle-for-bottle accurate – they are surprisingly consistent in their results. The brands that have traction at the top of the pyramid – the most important place to be – are borne out here in the tables of the Brands Report.

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