Hong Kong’s The Old Man wins Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019, displacing Singapore’s Manhattan in the fourth annual edition of the award competition.
Award-winning cocktail bar The Old Man – which debuted at No.5 on Asia’s World 50 Best Bars in 2018 after it opened – added another feather to its cap by leaping to pole position this year with a stunning win over Singapore’s Manhattan. The Regent Singapore’s Manhattan has held on to the coveted No.1 spot in the past two years, but may have struggled to stay on top with the recent departures of its bar manager Philip Bischoff and head bartender Cedric Mendoza.
Despite the strong challenge from the rest of Asia, Singapore bars still managed 11 spots this year (in 2017 Singapore bars took 13 spots, while 12 received honours in the 2018 edition). Doing exceedingly well this year was the Jigger & Pony Group; its flagship Jigger & Pony jumped an incredible 33 spots from No.42 to No.9, while its avant-garde concept Gibson rose from No.22 to No.15. Jigger & Pony’s move from its previous Amoy Street location to its current one at Amara Singapore may have rejuvenated the pioneering bar, which first opened in 2012.
Singapore cocktail darling Native also climbed a few notches to take the No.4 spot.
The 11 Singapore bars that entered Asia’s 50 Best Bars list this year (vs 2018) are:
- Manhattan Bar (No.2)/(No.1)
- Native (No.4)/(No.8)
- Atlas Bar (No.5)/(No.4)
- Jigger & Pony (No.9)/(No.42)
- Tippling Club (No.11)/(No.7)
- Gibson (No.15)/(No.22)
- 28 Hong Kong Street (No.21)/(No.12)
- Operation Dagger (No.22)/(No.19)
- D.Bespoke (No.25)/(No.32)
- Employees Only Singapore (No.41)/(No.23)
- The Other Room (No.46)/(No.50)
Dropping out this year is Nutmeg & Clove, which was No.33 last year.
This year’s list saw some really strong showing from bars in China and Thailand, which claimed 12 spots and 7 spots respectively. Aside from The Old Man’s win, Hong Kong’s Quinary rose five places to No.10 while newcomer to the list The Wise King debuted at No. 18. The Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental from Bangkok, which came in at No.8, was Thailand’s best performing bar.
Asia’s 50 Best Bars was first introduced in 2016 as the Asian extension of The World’s 50 Best Bars. As its name implies, it is an awards competition that recognises the best bars in Asia and is generally regarded as an industry barometer on the cocktail bar scene across most of Asia. This is especially considering that the voting panel is composed of bartenders, bar owners, drinks writers and cocktail connoisseurs from around the region. Each voting member must have visited the bar at least once in the previous 18 months; they each cast seven votes, with a minimum of three for bars located outside their own country of residence.
Granted it’s more of a qualitative – some say subjective -rather than a quantitative assessment, but still the list is highly-regarded by industry and consumers as a compass to find some of the most interesting and innovative drinking holes across Asia.
Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 may also serve as a wake-up call for some bars, and inspiration for some others to do better. You can find the full list of winners here.