Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - The Return of the Speakeasy
The mystique and intrigue of the Prohibition era speakeasy has captivated cocktail connoisseurs for generations. In 2022, some of the world's top bars are bringing back the secrets and sophistication of these exclusive hideaways. For the in-the-know imbiber, a pilgrimage to an artfully crafted modern speakeasy is a must.
New York's Attaboy channels the legacy of the city's legendary speakeasies. Tucked away on a nondescript block, its unmarked entrance hides a moody, candlelit sanctuary for serious cocktail exploration. Their rotating creations showcase the painstaking craft of extracting intense flavors from premium spirits and bitters. Sipping their smoked honey Old Fashioned under the hazy amber glow, you'll be transported to the golden era of the American speakeasy.
Across the Atlantic, Operation Dagger in Singapore fully commits to its clandestine concept. After ascending in an unmarked lift, you'll enter its sleek, blacked-out space marked only by a dagger emblem. Their bar menu cryptically lists cocktails by numbers, keeping their exact ingredients concealed. Their mixology wizards will deftly craft you bar's latest top-secret formula, but the contents remain privileged information.
For a historical twist, Mexico City's Licorería Limantour faithfully recreates the atmosphere of a turn-of-the-century cantina. Beyond its retro storefront, you'll find leather booths and curios lining mahogany shelves. But their menu is strictly contemporary, showcasing Latin spirits and local ingredients in unexpected ways. Sipping their smoky Mezcal Mule under pressed tin ceilings, you'll feel transported back to the golden age of Mexican speakeasies.
What else is in this post?
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - The Return of the Speakeasy
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Transportive Tiki Escapes
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Storied Spirits in Century-Old Settings
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Innovative Infusions with Japanese Flair
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Elegant Old World Hideaways
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Cocktail Chemistry in Surprising Spaces
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Al Fresco Oases for Aperitifs
- Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Daring Drinks in Discrete Dives
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Transportive Tiki Escapes
In the frantic pace of modern life, tiki bars offer a transportive escape to an idealized version of the South Pacific. As tiki culture has exploded worldwide, innovators are taking authentic tropical elements and combining them with a sense of playfulness and possibility. The result is next-level spaces that provide temporary reprieves from the everyday.
At Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, winding staircases transport you to an immersive, multi-level tiki playground. Interiors layered with bamboo, rattan and raffia palm transport you to the South Seas, while portholes, nets and lights strung like fishing vessels evoke fantasies of seafaring. Their signature Rum Barrel is a communal escape where groups can lose themselves in conversation and classic tiki tipples like the Painkiller.
New York's Broken Shaker takes you on an urban Polynesian getaway. Nestled beside a pool within the Freehand Hotel, their lush courtyard is filled with palms, Krishna statues, and Balinese umbrellas that conjure visions of tropical idylls. While sipping their Garden of Eden cocktail garnished with hibiscus and ginger, you'll feel delightfully disoriented - are you in Manhattan or Tahiti? Weekly events like learn-to-hula classes complete the fantasy.
At Three Hundred Suns in London, finding the unmarked basement door opens into a dark, theatrical tiki underworld. Filled with flaming fire features, a central marooned shipwreck bar and Hidden Harbor Brewery's acclaimed tiki beers, it offers escapist fantasy for a new generation. Their menu showcases global rums from Jamaica to Japan in playful new potions. With DJs spinning exotica tunes, you'll feel like you've landed in a subterranean tropical utopia.
The Netherlands' The Tikiyaki Orchestra takes immersion up a notch. Beyond elaborate decor, this pop-up experience features a live surf rock band, hula dancers, magicians and classic tiki dishes like pu pu platters. As you groove to their Polynesian interpretations of hits by The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean while sipping flaming Zombies, you'll be fully transported on a tiki time trip.
California's Tiki Ti immersively surrounds you with tiki history. Opened in 1961 and still run by the third generation of the Buhen family, their cozy bar is jam-packed with vast collections of Polynesian artifacts and decor spanning ancient Hawaiian relics to vintage matchbooks. With Ray Buhen Jr behind the bar whipping up mid-century classics like the Sumatra Kula, you'll feel like you've slipped through a time portal to the golden era of tiki.
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Storied Spirits in Century-Old Settings
For devoted imbibers, the patina of history adds richness that no modern bar can replicate. Legendary watering holes around the globe give drinkers the chance to partake in the atmosphere and stories of spirits' eras past.
Sipping a glass of tawny port at Lisbon's Art Deco Solar do Vinho do Porto transports you to the Age of Exploration, when Portuguese ships carried oak casks filled with the fortified wine back from the Douro River Valley. As you gaze out at the Tagus River from its hilltop terraces, you can easily imagine sailors toasting successful voyages centuries before. First opened in 1834, little has changed since its early days when British wine traders met to sample ports at garden tables under the sun.
Stepping through the polished oak doors of the American Bar at London's Savoy Hotel places you firmly amid the glamor of 1920s high society. As white-coated bartenders whip up vintage cocktails like the Hanky Panky and White Lady from golden shakers, you feel engulfed by the revelry and decadence of Jazz Age London. Unchanged since its art deco design in the 1920s, sipping a flight of gin from a chaise lounge under sparkling chandeliers makes you feel like a Bright Young Thing.
A hallmark of old Hollywood, stepping into Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard is like slipping through a time portal to Tinseltown's heyday. Under the warm glow of its red leather banquettes and wood-beamed ceilings, drinking martinis once savored by the likes of Hemingway and Chaplin connects you to past luminaries. Beyond the veneer, you can sense the storied history within its walls, from generations of aspiring starlets to writers penning screenplays over chicken pot pie.
For a trip through colonial history, El Floridita in Old Havana puts you squarely amid Cuba's bygone era of glamor. As a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, sipping mojitos at its long mahogany bar under slowly spinning ceiling fans allows you to vividly envision the Nobel laureate in his corner table a half century before. Beyond being a living museum filled with Hemingway memorabilia and photos, El Floridita retains the languid tempo of pre-Revolution Cuba.
The centuries-old wine cellars of Heilig-Geist-Spital in Colmar, France offer the chance to taste history. Descending the worn stone staircases with vaulted ceilings into dimly lit caves stacked with barrels aging Gewürztraminer and Riesling connects you to medieval monks who once tread the same path. Sampling these acclaimed Alsatian whites in the historic setting where they were fermented and aged provides insight no modern wine tasting room can replicate. For oenophiles, it's a priceless opportunity to taste the spirit of the past.
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Innovative Infusions with Japanese Flair
Japan has long been renowned for its meticulous approach to craftsmanship. This exacting attention to detail extends to their bartending as well, with Japanese mixologists obsessing over perfecting classic cocktails while also pioneering creative new concoctions. For those thirsty for innovation, Japan offers an endless font of envelope-pushing elixirs to sample.
Tokyo's sgBar was an early pioneer of modern Japanese mixology. The intimate counter spot's renowned bartender Hidetsugu Ueno became one of Japan's most acclaimed and influential mixologists by introducing New York classics like the Martinez and Sazerac to local drinkers. But Ueno also riffed on canonized recipes to create unorthodox new blends like the Sakuratini, which infuses gin with pickled cherry blossoms for a bracingly bitter yet floral Japanese twist on the classic Martini. His inventive recipes using traditional Japanese ingredients helped revolutionize the nation's approach to mixology.
The Ginza neighborhood of Tokyo has emerged as the epicenter of Japan's progressive cocktail culture. Hidden away on the second floor of a nondescript building, Bar BenFiddich applies a Japanese focus on precision to scrupulously crafted classics and carefully balanced new creations. Their Mulata Daisy infuses roasted pineapple into aged Jamaican rum for a tropical Japanese twist, while their Martini on The Rock blends barrel-aged gin with Sakura liqueur for an elegant floral infusion.
In Osaka, mixologist Shingo Gokan's Sober Company became renowned for his modernist mixology using unconventional Japanese touches. His signature Earl Grey MarTEAni combines junmai sake and housemade ume liqueur with bergamot tea in a teapot smoked with cherry wood chips. His Sakura Martini floats a sakura leaf on gin infused with cherry blossoms, while his Sunflower Martini mixes dill-inflected gin with sunflower seeds and oil. Gokan's unique infusions amplify Japan's native botanicals into cocktails both eccentric and enticing.
The mixing mastery at Kyoto's Bar Ivy helped earn it the title of Best Bar in Asia. Beyond having over 350 blended whiskies to sample, Ivy's bartenders can customize personal infusions on request. Their signature Yuzu Sour cleverly combines yuzu juice with umeshu liqueur, yellow Chartreuse and bourbon, blending Japanese and Western ingredients into a complex and compelling libation. For something smoother, their Sakura Gimlet steeps housemade sakura liqueur into gin, skillfully infusing the spirit with delicate floral notes.
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Elegant Old World Hideaways
For those who savor tradition and longing for the charm of bygone eras, some of the world’s most elegant bars expertly recreate the refinement of past centuries. These refined old world hideaways transport guests back to the genteel charms of Belle Époque Europe or the Gilded Age with their dedication to time-honored decor and attentive service. For devotees of decorum and civility, they are exquisite portals into more gracious times.
Stepping through the polished brass doors of the Ritz Paris’s Bar Hemingway feels like entering a sanctum of civility frozen in the 1920s. Named for Papa Hemingway who often frequented it, the intimate wood-paneled space exudes the refined gentility of Jazz Age Paris. White-coated barmen meticulously prepare cocktails tableside on custom gueridons, precisely measuring ingredients out on sterling silver jiggers and strainers. Sinking into the plush burgundy leather armchairs with a French 75, surrounded by oak bookshelves and gleaming chandeliers, you feel enveloped by the timeless cachet that still defines the Ritz today.
Equally transportive is the stately grace of the Veranda Bar at London’s Connaught Hotel. Overlooking the luxe hotel’s serene private garden, the bar’s soaring ceilings, elegant moldings and artful marble pillars evoke the refinement of Edwardian England. Impeccably polite bar staff in custom bespoke uniforms take your order on small silver trays, then return with your Champagne or signature alkalizing Martini on a silver trolley, discreetly preparing your drink tableside. Surveying the bar’s vignettes of velvet settees and marble topped bistro tables, you feel cosseted in a privileged cocoon, blissfully detached from the outside world.
Heading downstairs to Madrid’s Del Diego cocktail bar places you firmly in old world Iberia, with stained glass partitions, and dark wood privacy nooks that evoke a gintonic taberna from a century past. Their collection of over 300 gins reflects their dedication to tradition, with barkeeps expertly pairing your choice with specialty tonics and garnishes like freshly cut grapefruit peel. Settling into their Chesterfield leather booths with your Gibson or Negroni, you’re immersed in the easygoing refinement that defines latter-day Spanish elegance.
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Cocktail Chemistry in Surprising Spaces
For adventurous imbibers, some of the world’s most acclaimed bars are breaking free of conventional settings and transplanting their craft cocktail alchemy to unexpected spaces that stimulate the senses. Patrons never know what surreal surprise these mixology magicians will conjure up next in their mad scientist laboratories. But one thing is certain - it will be an unforgettable experience that tantalizes your taste buds and titillates your imagination.
New York’s Existing Conditions transports you into an intriguing parallel universe where cocktails become performance art. Hidden behind a refrigerator in a Williamsburg loft, this reservation-only “bar” admits just eight guests to witness its theatrics. You’re handed lab coats and protective eyewear, then escorted into their experimental cocktail lab to witness theirwizardry. Their“research samples” resemble scientific potions served in Erlenmeyer flasks, phials and medicine droppers, magically changing colors and textures tableside thanks to inventive uses of powders, gels, mists and foams. With ambient sounds suggesting a spaceship laboratory, it’s a surreal adventure - call it molecular mixology to the max.
For cerebral stimulation with your tipple, Cuauhtémoc Rivera forged his freewheeling P&G DrinkLab inside a Mexico City bookstore. Surrounded by texts on philosophy, patrons are served cocktails thematically linked to different genres, with drinks based on poetry, science fiction and feminism. Their Pink Noise pairs Mezcal with prickly pear and hibiscus for a floral-smoky infusion inspired by the cadence of verse. Bookworms and booze hounds alike find their imaginations ignited by the space’s blend of liquid creativity and literary inspiration.
Tokyo’s Gen Yamamoto takes a avant garde approach to crafting cocktails that engage the senses. After passing through a narrow alley, you’ll enter a sleek concrete interior that feels more like an art gallery than a bar. Yamamoto treats each drink as a work of art - his origami-like diamond ice cubes and edible flower garnishes transform familiar liquors into modernist compositions. Signifying his roots, the menu highlights Japanese spirits and local produce, like Tochiotome made with sake lees oil and cherry blossom. Equal parts laboratory and lounge, Gen Yamamoto stimulates your senses while refreshing your perspectives on what defines a transcendent cocktail.
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Al Fresco Oases for Aperitifs
For sunseekers and sippers, few pleasures compare to unwinding in the open air with an expertly mixed aperitif. As springtime blooms, outdoor terraces become prized sanctuaries where we can soak up the warmth and cast off the isolation of winter. For barkeeps, al fresco spaces provide fresh creative inspiration as they craft seasonal libations best savored in the elements.
Vegas's Savory Fare transforms the sidewalk at the entrance of the Fashion Show mall into an urban oasis with sunshine cocktails. As shoppers stream by, it feels deliciously incongruous to recline in their modern wicker loungers sipping a bourbon berry Mojito. For those craving a tropical escape, their Tiki Tub delivers an instant island vacation, blending spiced rum with passionfruit and orange juice served in a real coconut shell. With petals from their potted palms blowing in the breeze, it's a delightfully unexpected Vegas scene, offering a slice of laidback indulgence yards from the bustling strip.
While rooftop bars have become ubiquitous in cities worldwide, few equal the majestic views and lively ambiance of Barcelona's La Isabela. Situated atop the 19th century El Corte Inglés department store, its sweeping panoramas of spires like Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and the picturesque array of crimson tiled roofs make you feel on top of the Catalan capital. Cava spritzes and G&Ts flow freely as DJs spin upbeat tunes, imbuing the terrace with infectious energy as the sun sinks into the sea. Savoring their spin on classics like a blood orange gin Rickey, you'll find it near impossible to tear yourself away from the hypnotic views.
For stunning cliffside vistas, Oslo's Ilebefinn seg combines killer cocktails with sunsets over the Oslofjord. Perched on a rocky promontory jutting out over the sea, Norway's longest day sees the sun hanging over the horizon well past 11 pm as city lights begin flickering on across the water. Grab a seat around one of their firepits to stay toasty as the night air blows in, pairing their spiced Aquavit Old Fashioned with the rolling panorama of islands dotting the fjord. You'll be mesmerized for hours watching hues morph from blue to gold to violet reflected on the sea's glassy surface.
Raising the Bar: The Top 10 Best Bars in the World for 2023 - Daring Drinks in Discrete Dives
For adventurous imbibers seeking one-of-a-kind experiences, some of the world’s most remarkable bars are tucked away in unlikely locales off the beaten path. These under-the-radar watering holes delight daring drinkers willing to venture beyond the ordinary and explore liquids at the lunatic fringe.
The cavernous concrete interior of Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge feels more bunker than bar. But within its unmarked walls, Bobby Heugel has forged a Southern haven for risk-taking mixology. Beyond their staggering selection of over 700 spirits, their creative house cocktails push boundaries by radically reimagining classics or concocting fantastical new libations from peculiar ingredients. Their Whiskey Smash combines bonded bourbon with smoked honey and eucalyptus for an audacious twist, while their Black Pepper Martini amps up dry vermouth with an eye-opening dose of cracked black peppercorns. Anvil’s daring drinks in its discrete digs are a revelation for flavor-seeking expeditionists.
Behind an unmarked door in London’s hotel-filled Bloomsbury district, the Experimental Cocktail Club’s hushed interior imparts the atmosphere of a private members club. Its moody low lighting sets the stage for exploring their avant garde offerings, many created in collaboration with renowned perfume houses using unexpected olfactory ingredients. Their scentsational Rose Petal Martini infuses smoked rose oil into vodka for a sophisticated floral martini with an intriguing hint of campfire. Seeking inspiring new inebriations, ECC’s alchemists conjure up daring drinks that tantalize your taste buds and titillate your senses.
In the hipster haven of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Tooker Alley provides impish escape from the bustling streets nearby. Entering its graffiti-scrawled exterior, you’ll find a whimsical wonderland adorned in eclectic thrift shop chic decor. Their cheekily named cocktails like the One Night Stan-dartini and Harvey Wallbang-Her push boundaries with risqué recipes, pairing pineapple-infused rum with passionfruit liqueur or blending absinthe with ginger syrup. An irreverent atmosphere encourages open-minded experimentation and new experiences, whether it’s trying their Far East Faction with Yuzu sake or entering their photo booth to memorialize the night’s debauchery.