Manhattan Bar tops Asia’s 50 Best Bars again, but Singapore falters overall


Regent Hotel Singapore‘s New York-themed cocktail joint Manhattan Bar once again proves its mettle in the country’s cocktail bar scene by landing the coveted No. 1 position in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018 list for the second consecutive year.

The 12 Singapore bars that entered Asia’s 50 Best Bars list this year (vs 2017) are:

  • Manhattan Bar (1st)/(1st)
  • Atlas Bar (4th)/(12th)
  • Tippling Club (7th)/(11th)
  • Native (8th)/(20th)
  • 28 Hong Kong Street (12th)/(4th)
  • Operation Dagger (19th)/(6th)
  • Gibson (22nd)/(14th)
  • Employees Only Singapore (23rd)/(17th)
  • D.Bespoke (32nd)/(29th)
  • Nutmeg & Clove (33rd)/(30th)
  • Jigger & Pony (42nd)/(21st)
  • The Other Room (50th)/(35th)

The results were announced on 3rd May during an awards ceremony – as a prelude to the Singapore Cocktail Festival 2018 – at Capitol Theatre in Singapore, a country considered to possess one of the strongest cocktail cultures in the world.

“As the centre of the burgeoning food and drink world in Asia, Singapore was naturally chosen to hold the first ever Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony to celebrate bartending talents and cocktail innovation in the region. We are honoured to recognise the 50 bars on the 2018 list, along with its individual award winners, who continue to inspire us and the industry,” says William Drew, Group Editor of Asia’s 50 Best Bars.

But as you can see from the list, Singapore’s dominance in the competition may be threatened by the burgeoning scene around the region with only 12 Singapore bars ranked this year compared to 13 in 2017. More worrying than highly lauded rum bar Sugarhall dropping entirely off the list is the fact that aside from three bars – Atlas Bar, Tippling Club and Native – all the other Singapore bars dropped down the list, with Operation Dagger plummeting 13 places while Singapore’s pioneer classic cocktail bar Jigger & Pony fell a staggering 21 spots.

On the bright side, Native owner and head bartender Vijay Mudaliar was nominated by the bartenders of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018 as the recipient of the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender award for his impact and contribution to the sector over the previous year.

It’s most likely that it’s less of what Singapore has done wrong than what the bars in other countries have done right; China finally asserts its considerable influence in this year’s list by placing 12 of its bars on the list, with Shanghai’s Speak Low retaining its three-time title of The Best Bar in China as well as earning the Heering Legend of the List Award for consistently proving its continued excellence over the history of the list. Bangkok, too, has muscled in on the list with 6 entries this year.

The Asia’s 50 Best Bars list is compiled from the votes of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy, an influential group of almost 200 leaders in the bar sector across Asia, each selected for his or her expert opinion of the drinking scene. The panel comprises drinks journalists, bartenders and owners, and well-travelled cocktail aficionados.