Cheers to That: World's 50 Best Bars Ceremony to be Held in Singapore

by Astrid Young
06 Jun 2023

The World’s 50 Best Bars will be revealed in Singapore on 17 October 2023. As excitement builds for the big event, we catch up with Mark Sansom, Content Director for 50 Best Bars, and discover why Asia is the next cocktail hotspot.

Can you tell us about your role as Content Director for 50 Best Bars entails?
I’ve been with the 50 Best team since 2019. As Content Director, I am responsible for all content output from The World’s 50 Best Bars and The World’s 50 Best Hotels brands, which includes the websites and the lists we produce.

What’s more, I put together the team of Academy Chairs who select our voters and am the point of liaison for bartenders and hoteliers all over the world.

Since this is the awards’ first foray outside of Europe, can you tell us why it’s traveling to Asia and specifically, why Singapore? Also – why now?
The World’s 50 Best Bars was founded in 2009 and up until last year, it had been held in London. In 2022, we decided to take the show on the road and held the event in Barcelona, Spain, in order to shine the spotlight on another awesome cocktail city.

In the last decade, the reputation of the cocktail scene in Asia has grown exponentially, with eight bars placed on the 1-50 list and 14 on the 51-100 list in 2022. The continent continues to amaze us with its diversity and dynamism in churning out noteworthy, world-class bars. We believe this is just the beginning of what we will see from the bar industry and are super excited to place a spotlight on what this region has to offer.

As for Singapore, it is well-recognized as a leading force and epicenter for the cocktail industry in Asia. The city showed us great hospitality in the consecutive years when Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards (2018 to 2019) was hosted there. So when it came to selecting a location for The World’s 50 Best Bars awards’ first foray into Asia, it was a very natural and unanimous choice for our team.

Manhattan – currently ranks at 33 in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022

What has caught your attention about Asia’s cocktail scene in the past few years? What do you think the future has in store for the region, particularly in the evolution of cocktails and the industry?
The trajectory of the cocktail scene in Asia has caught not just mine, but the world’s attention.

In the last decade, the number and quality of cocktail bars that have been introduced to the scene is astounding, and this is despite the pandemic slowdown. Ten years ago, the bar scene in Asia was mainly led by bar experts who have travelled across the globe to explore new opportunities in Asia.

Today, we are seeing a new generation of homegrown bar talents come into their own, and they are now taking the lead in pushing the industry forward. This is just the beginning of a new era for Asia, and I am so excited to see what next stage of growth is for the region.

Asia has such a unique drinking heritage with so many different styles of spirits finding their genesis here. We are only just scratching the surface of what a cocktail destination Asia has, and will, become.

What do you think the arrival of the awards ceremony will do for the region’s cocktail industry?
One of 50 Best’s primary goals has always been to place the spotlight on deserving and emerging regions of gastronomy and fine drinking, and leading consumers to discover the best (and sometimes underrated) food and drink destinations around the world.

We believe the arrival of The World’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony on 17 October in Singapore will not just propel the region’s cocktail scene forward, the buzz around the awards will also translate into excitement for global imbibers, placing Asia as a must-visit hotspot for cocktail exploration.

Jigger & Pony – currently ranks at 12 in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022

Can you tell us more about the recently added Bareksten Best Bar Design award? In your opinion, how design impact the overall drinking experience?
The Bareksten Best Bar Design Award is a brand-new award that celebrates the very best in bar design. The award is judged by an esteemed panel of six hospitality design experts, and bars from anywhere in the world can submit their venues for consideration. Each entry will be judged on six key pillars: Innovation, aesthetics, accessibility, ergonomics, ecological compatibility, and emotional quotient.

Design is such an important part of the overall drinking experience. We all drink with our eyes first, so how a bar looks usually sets the tone from the moment a guest steps in. Beyond what we can see, there are also many design intricacies that may not be noticeable to the untrained eye. However, these intricacies are carefully considered to marry form and functionality for the best bar experience, ensuring both the comfort of the guests and the ease of hospitality.

With the Bareksten Best Bar Design Award, we also want to go deeper than a bar’s look and feel. The criteria sets out principles of accessibility, ergonomics, and considerate design for all guests. We will also look at how the bar interacts with its environment and how sustainably its materials are applied.

"I think that for a drink to be considered ‘good’, it has to use very high-quality ice. The ice used is probably the most important thing about a drink to me, particularly at the 50 Best level."

What do you look for in a drink and what is your go-to cocktail?
I think that for a drink to be considered ‘good’, it has to use very high-quality ice. The ice used is probably the most important thing about a drink to me, particularly at the 50 Best level.

As for my go-to cocktail, it’s either a Martini or a Negroni, depending on the mood I’m in. I’ll look for how considerately the drink has been made, which you can absolutely taste from the first sip.

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