Raise a glass to the world’s best bar (and 49 more)

Sips, in Barcelona, came top of the rankings at the World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 awards, announced this week in Singapore.

Raise a glass to the world’s best bar (and 49 more)
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The recipe for a world-class cocktail bar? Forget flavors – what’s important is “dedication, passion, quality, hospitality and empathy,” according to Simone Caporale, whose bar has just been rated the best on the planet.

Sips, in Barcelona, came top of the rankings at the World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 awards, announced this week in Singapore.

In fact, a dash of Barcelona might be another key ingredient to a prizewinning bar – last year’s top-ranking joint, Paradiso, is also located in the Catalan capital. (This year, it took fourth place.)

The cocktails and vibe at Sips, in Barcelona, which took the top spot at The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 awards © courtesy The World’s 50 Best Bars

Cocktails and dreams

It was June 2021 when Caporale and his business partner Marc Álvarez opened up – in the middle of the pandemic, and to an uncertain future. But their leap of faith has been rewarded with a stratospheric rise to the top.

The bar came in 37th place in 2021, just months after opening, and then leaped to third last year. “From that big climb we understood that Sips had potential,” Caporale told Lonely Planet. “But it was entirely up to us. So we continued to do what we are good at: working with passion and dedication. That’s one of the main reasons why Sips was founded, and it’s part of our working philosophy.”

In the modernist L’Eixample district of the city, the self-styled “drinkery house” was set up “on a mission to challenge the boundaries of the bar and cocktail experience,” the pair wrote on Instagram before opening. That means swapping the standard bar for a “workstation” at which bartenders clad in t-shirts and waistcoats prepare drinks side by side with their clients.

Caporale and Álvarez come from illustrious cocktail backgrounds: Caporale co-guided Artesian in London to the top of the rankings no fewer than four times, while Álvarez spent over a decade working for Ferran and Albert Adrià’s elBarri restaurant group.

The team at Zest, in Seoul, South Korea won the Best Newcomer award © courtesy The World's 50 Best Bars

Other winners around the globe

But there were plenty of less-high-profile winners at the awards – starting with Zest, in Seoul, which was awarded the Best Newcomer award, placing at 18 overall. Cofounders Demie Kim, Sean Woo, Jisu Park and Noah Kwon place a rare emphasis on sustainability, with ingredients sourced from across South Korea; carbonated drinks made in-house; and leftovers – from citrus peel to post-squeeze pulp – transformed into cordials and spirits.

Kim told Lonely Planet: “We wanted to introduce a Korean style of bar to the world…going forward, we’d like to make a better bar culture in Korea.”

London was the overall city winner, with five bars on the list, including two in the top 10. Mexico City was a close second, with four bars on the list and Handshake Speakeasy coming in third overall. Athens, Buenos Aires and New York City each had three bars on the list – NYC’s Double Chicken Please came second overall, and was named best bar in North America.

Bangkok’s BKK Social Club (inside the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River) claimed best bar in Asia. Dubai newcomer Mimi Kakushi (inside the Four Seasons Dubai Jumeirah Beach) was named best bar in the Middle East and Africa, and Sydney’s Maybe Sammy took the Australasia top spot for the fifth time since its 2019 launch.

Tres Monos in Buenos Aires, Argentina, prioritizes a friendly atmosphere over extravagant drinks © courtesy The World’s 50 Best Bars

Latin America makes its mark

Topping the South America charts for the second time was Cartagena’s Alquímico. Tres Monos, in Buenos Aires, came second in South America and 11th overall – a climb of 16 places from the previous year. Co-founder Sebastián Atienza told Lonely Planet that “Three Monkeys” is “a humble bar like many in Buenos Aires,” one that prioritizes a friendly atmosphere over extravagant drinks. 

“The truth is, we never imagined achieving so much international recognition and from such important people in our industry. Latin America, and in particular Argentina, has been doing incredible work to position our country among the best in the world. Getting people to come to Buenos Aires because it is one of the world capitals of cocktails brings us all together,” he said.

Hospitality first

It was a sentiment echoed by William Drew, director of content for 50 Best.

“The essence of a great bar is surely hospitality,” he told Lonely Planet. “That means ensuring guests feel welcome, comfortable and that they leave happy. Every establishment will seek to execute that mission in slightly different ways, but the best bars place the guest at the center of the experience while adapting to each individual’s tastes, preferences and mood.”

The cold pizza cocktail at Double Chicken Please in New York City © Emmanuel Rosario

The top 50 list in full:

1: Sips, Barcelona

2: Double Chicken Please, NYC

3: Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City

4: Paradiso, Barcelona

5: Connaught Bar, London

6: Little Red Door, Paris

7: Licorería Limantour, Mexico City

8: Tayēr + Elementary, London

9: Alquímico, Cartagena

10: Himkok, Oslo

11: Tres Monos, Buenos Aires

12: Line, Athens

13: BKK Social Club, Bangkok

14: Jigger & Pony, Singapore

15: Maybe Sammy, Sydney

16: Salmon Guru, Madrid

17: Overstory, NYC

18: Zest, Seoul

19: Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok

20: Coa, Hong Kong

21: Drink Kong, Rome

22: Hanky Panky, Mexico City

23: Caretaker's Cottage, Melbourne

24: Café La Trova, Miami

25: Baba au Rum, Athens

26: CoChinChina, Buenos Aires

27: Katana Kitten, NYC

28: Satan's Whiskers, London

29: Wax On, Berlin

30: Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires

31: Röda Huset, Stockholm

32: Sago House, Singapore

33: Freni e Frizioni, Rome

34: Argo, Hong Kong

35: A Bar with Shapes for a Name, London

36: The SG Club, Tokyo

37: Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo

38: The Cambridge Public House, Paris

39: Panda & Sons, Edinburgh

40: Mimi Kakushi, Dubai

41: Scarfes Bar, London

42: 1930, Milan

43: Carnaval, Lima

44: L'Antiquario, Naples

45: Baltra Bar, Mexico City

46: Locale Firenze, Florence

47: The Clumsies, Athens

48: Atlas, Singapore

49: Jewel of the South, New Orleans

50: Galaxy Bar, Dubai

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