London’s Southwark Cathedral played host to the 2017 edition of The World’s 50 Best Bars on September 5, gathering some of the industry’s top mixologists from speakeasies, local watering holes and hotel bars. The location of the annual gala, which is held to highlight the best bars around the world, is hardly a coincidence; that night, London took home the most number of spots on the list, including the first place. Ironically, London’s top winner is the American Bar of The Savoy Hotel.
Savoy Hotel’s storied hotel bar effectively knocks last year’s winner, The Dead Rabbit, off of its throne. The New York bar now sits at fifth place, sharing the top 10 list with two other bars from the city: Attaboy at the eighth place, and The NoMad Hotel ranked the highest of the three at the third spot.
As its name would suggest, American Bar was one of the first bars to introduce Londoners to the fashionable American-style “cocktail” drink, which became popular in the late 19th century. Besides boasting a legacy that stretches back more than a century, the bar is also run by a string of professionals who pull off their jobs with mastery and skill. American Bar’s 11th bartender, Erik Lorincz, is no stranger to accolades for his own abilities, having previously been named the Best International Bartender at the 2011 edition of Tales of the Cocktail.
The world’s best bar would be nothing without its drinks, and the menu at the American Bar is one of the imaginative variety. Entitled “Coast to Coast”, the menu takes guests on a liquid journey across Britain, aspiring to evoke the island’s verdant landscape, folklore, history and characters from the North to the South. The inventive cocktails are inspired by everything from the Garden of England in Kent and the Sherwood Forest to London’s Art Deco era and the Edinburgh Castle.
Naturally, many of these poetic concoctions are on the pricey side. For example, The Arthur’s Seat is a £30 cocktail made with Royal Brackla 16-year-old malt whisky, wild honeysuckle Cocchi Rosa aperitif, wine, honey water, raspberry vinegar and blossom bitters.
American Bar was accompanied by several other London-based establishments on the top 10 list, such as Connaught Bar (#4) and Bar Termini (#9). Mondrian London’s botanic-themed Dandelyan, which won the Best International Hotel Bar at this year’s Spirited Awards, came in at a close second.
Across the list of 50 winners that encompasses 24 cities in 19 countries, Europe and the US made up a big share with 19 and 13 spots respectively. Asia had 12 addresses on the list, with Singapore’s Manhattan Bar being the best in the region at seventh place. Shanghai’s Speak Low came in at 10th place.
Down under, Melbourne’s Black Pearl came out as the top bar in Australasia. Mexico City’s Licoreria Limantour represents the best of Latin America while Tel Aviv’s Imperial Craft is at the forefront of the bar scene in the Middle East and Africa.