Quicktake: For the World’s 50 Best Bars 2022, Paradiso took the top place and Little Red Door was the only France bar to make the list at No. 5. However, Candelaria, Danico and le Syndicat all came within the top 100.
The World’s Best Bar 2022: Paradiso
Paradiso claimed the No. 1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars 2022 list for the first time. As mentioned in previous World’s 50 Best Bars dispatches, the list slightly favours high end hotel bars for its top spot. So, this is a departure from that trend with this Barcelona speakeasy hidden behind a pastrami shop.
Take a look at the full list to find out which 49 other bars made the cut.
What’s New for the World’s 50 Best Bars 2022
For the first time since the list began in 2009, the top spot was claimed by a bar that is located in neither London nor New York – the two capital cities that traditionally battle it out for top billing. Additionally, for the first time, the World’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony was held outside of London at the La cúpula de Las Arenas in Barcelona. And, this trend of counting down the top bars outside of the UK will continue with yet another new destination for next year’s awards (the location of which remains confidential until official announcements).
After taking over a few years back, William Reed Media family, also responsible for the 50 Best Restaurants, made organizational changes to ensure wider global coverage of voters and a 50/50 gender balance. You can learn more about these changes in my Paris Cocktail Talk interview with Mark Sansom, Content Editor for the World’s 50 Best Bars and Restaurants.
The effects of these changes remain apparent in the wider global distribution of bars on the list with showings from 26 different cities (up three from last year). We see the inevitable spread as both the Academy becomes more diverse regionally and as cocktail culture massively moves into smaller cities around the world. However, this also means less votes to go around and some regions with great cocktails on offer were completely overlooked this year like USA West Coast and Canada.
Nineteen bars from last year’s list didn’t make the top 50 this year, making for a 40% turnover rate. Last year saw a larger than usual turnover as well. I believe this large percentile change is due to both the seeping of cocktail culture into mainstream culture in cities world-wide in recent years, as well as the Academy still shaping ideas of what ‘best’ means based on new considerations of diversity, sustainability and accessibility and also diversification of regional voting panels to cover more geographic territory.
France in the World’s 50 Best Bars 2022
For the fourth year in a row, Little Red Door was the only French bar to hit the top 50. This makes a total of 9 placements on the list for LRD, the highest count for any French cocktail bar. Having finally made it into the top 5, I wonder if Little Red Door can continue the upward momentum and unseat the current title holder in the next year or two. But, in general, French presence on the list continues to peter out, which may in part be due to the growing global spread of voters. For a deeper look at this a few years ago, I covered France’s listings over the World’s 50 Best Bars first decade and how they reflect the changing landscape of the French cocktail culture.
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While the top 50 establishments easily grab headlines, there’s more of interest here if you scratch below the surface. In recent years World’s 50 Best Bars also released rankings for 51 to 100. Here’s where you’re likely to find up and comers worth knowing who may not have yet garnered global attention. France has consistently placed a few bars in this range. This year, we had three from Paris: prior top 50 bars Candelaria and le Syndicat inched back into orbit at Nos.76 and 84, respectively. And Danico took No. 85.
As usual I would still love to see more bars outside of Paris hit the list. I’m personally making it a mission to travel domestically as much as possible throughout the year to highlight as many of our country’s establishments as possible to showcase their growing networks of worthy cocktail bars. Watch this space over the next twelve months for more coverage like this recent post on where to drink cocktails in Lyon.
While we only had one bar in the top 50, France did take home another award. Little Red Door’s focus on local producers paid off as they took home a second accolade with the Ketel One Sustainable Bar award.
What does the future hold for the World’s 50 Best Bars?
We will continue to see the positive effects of a more intentional focus on diversity equity and inclusion. This will be reflected in both voting panels and the bars making the lists and discovery. (Of course there may be some less than positive effects for some with older, well-established regions, countries or cities dropping off to make way for the new.)
Another trend that won’t be slowing is sustainability with its own dedicated award, the importance it plays as a factor in the selection of the best bar menu, and the global recognition of the importance of sustainability.
“Best” is definitely subjective and World’s 50 Best Bars very intentionally does not define it for their voters. Last year, I predicted that our collective definition would continue to evolve to include ideas around sustainability and diversity as well as hopefully accessibility and safety standards. That prediction is proving true, with more discussion around this topic amongst the Academy Chairs this year as well as the introduction for World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 of a Bareksten Best Bar Design award, which will recognise bars beyond just look and style, but also based on categories including like accessibility, use of sustainable materials, considerate design and energy efficiency.
My prediction from last year that Asia would continue to figure strongly turned out to be both right and wrong. The region managed 8 placements on the World’s Best 50 Bars list, but it was down by half from last year – likely due to lingering travel restrictions for some areas.
For my future predictions, there will continue to be heavy rotations in bars and wider geographic spread as cocktails go even more mainstream, seeping into all cities around the world and no longer just relegated to the capitals and cosmotropolis.
However, we will also start seeing more mini-clusters from up and coming cities, such as the high concentration of top 50 bars from Barcelona this year. Cities like Athens are relying on the strength of their cocktail community to create a strong offering on the global scene. Cities like Barcelona are drawing in foreign bartenders who are adding to the local scene to create a solid offering of cocktail options. Finally, as municipal tourism boards begin to recognise the potential draw of this particular brand of nightlife, they will encourage activities that allow for growth in the sector. This means continually increasing traffic in these growing cocktail destinations from globetrotting Academy Chairs, Academy members and cocktail/lifestyle influencers, ultimately garnering more attention – and potentially more votes.
We will continue to see a shift to bars that deliver cocktails with a lot of show, such as this year’s winner Paradiso. Notice that Number 3 on the list, Sips, also based in Barcelona, has moved the bar to the center of the room so that the making of the drinks is integrated into the experience and the glassware was specially selected and created for maximum cohesiveness with the cocktail…and instagrammability. This pendulum swing towards more theatrics isn’t too surprising given the rising renewed interest in flair bartending in certain circles.
My final prediction is that we will start to see some crossover between the bar and restaurants list in the next year or two.
And if you want an inkling of bars you may see inch up to the top fifty, I’d recommend taking a look at the 50 Best Discovery. In fact, this is a great list to consult not just to see what might happen with the the top 50 but for local or travel reference. They also feature restaurants.
And that’s a wrap on this year’s dispatch!
Want more coverage on this year’s 50 Best Bars? Check out the articles and analysis from Hamish Smith in the Drinks International Global Bar Edition 2022.