Having your sights on a night out at one of the best cocktail bars in the world is more than just ticking something off your bucket list. It’s a chance to tour some of the most eclectic and extraordinary locales on an up market bar crawl! There are so many to choose from locally, state-wide and globally it’s a veritable harvest of rich pickings. Luckily to help us out there are annual awards from critics and the community. So let’s take a look at the most astonishing cocktail bars the world has to offer.
Dandelyan, London, UK
Tales of the Cocktail announced London’s Dandelyan as winner of their 11th annual Spirited Award 2017 – an achievement that gets harder to judge as the industry keeps upping its game. The Dandelyan bar is the innovation of Mr Lyan, an award-winning cocktail creator par excellence whose reputation is well-known in industry circles. A host of awards and nominations have seen the Dandelyan scooping best international hotel bar and best international bar teams.
As an idea of why this bar is so popular you just have to take a look at the cocktail list. Split into themes of human drives and plant species Lyan’s ‘Money’ category includes All Tomorrow’s Parties; a blend of England’s famous Kew Gardens Organic Gin with green tea, grapefruit and soy sugar. ‘Lust’ hits you with Sweetheart Sazerac a combination of Jameson, Redbreast, dock leaf, absinthe and nettle. The aromatic, refreshing Tomacco Mule is a cocktail of Bacardi Carta Blanca, tomato wine, carrot and ginger beer.
Door 74, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This classy, knowingly old-fashioned, speakeasy venue asks its patrons to ‘behave like ladies and gentlemen’. This is a great scene-setter for the evening you are about to experience! Leather-bound menus tease you with a multitude of tantalizing cocktails including ‘Floating Through the Park’. Made with Warner Edwards Sloe Gin, plum and ginger syrup and fresh lemon juice this eye-opener is topped off with Taittinger Brut. Reading on and ‘Thank Guave It’s Friday’ made with Angostura 7, raspberry, lime, Fratello hazelnut liqueur and of course guave! Door 74 uses an amazing array of ingredients, some that aren’t used in similar combinations anywhere else. Lemon, oyster mushroom-infused whiskey, cornwine and peppers are used to great effect.
Jules Basement, Mexico City, Mexico
This reservation-only speakeasy style basement bar is ‘hidden’ behind a refrigerator door in the best tradition of the Prohibition Era. The bar is an exclusive monochrome affair with geometric patterning and a dance floor that is alive with its clientele and live, pounding music. On the drinks menu are popular cocktails comprising unusual ingredients. The Mamie Z cocktail uses Semillero mescal, ginseng extract, Royal jelly, smoked agave syrup, fresh ginger, fresh lime juice, Angostura bitters and soda. Flor de Sangre is a heady cocktail of Tequila Gran Centenario Plata, hibiscus flower, agave honey, fresh lime juice and hibiscus with chili foam.
Hemingway Bar, Prague, Czech Republic
Ernest Hemingway, nicknamed ‘Papa’ was a famous novelist and patron of many bars in his time. Aside from cocktails like Hemingway Daiquiri and his Papa Doble it’s little wonder that an enterprise bearing his name was launched. Recognized for only serving top quality premium ingredients, the Hemingway Bar also serves the most extensive variety of absinthe anywhere in the Czech Republic.
The bar is warm, friendly and welcoming to new and returning customers. One of our favorite cocktails is the Hemingway Special. This Papa Doble is served in a crisp, icy flask presented to you in a hollowed-out book. To drink it simply pour over the rock in your elaborate goblet! Other notable cocktails include Papa’s House Punch is a blend of Havana Club Especial rum, Martell V.S.O.P. cognac, peach liqueur, black almond tea, Angostura aromatic bitters, sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice, fondant fish and grapefruit peel. Perhaps Hemingway’s Lottery appeals: Chivas Regal 12 blended whisky, Godet Pearadise, fresh lime juice, sugar syrup, fresh basil, Angostura aromatic bitters and pear.
Harlowe Bar, Santa Monica, Los Angeles
West Coast USA is the place to go if you want your cocktails served in the decadent ambience of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Original cocktails are mixed in elegant surroundings in an ambitious but tasteful fusion of old meets new. A common feature of all the best cocktail bars is their willingness and ability to take exceptional ingredients and mix them into new and appealing flavor combinations. The Harlowe Bar is no different; its White Rabbit melds Benham’s Gin, Crème de Peche, Maraschino liqueur, lychee, honey, lemon, egg white, Peychaud’s Bitters and dried apricot. How about Harlowe Bar’s take on a Long Island Iced Tea? Subtly or not so subtly bearing the moniker of Best Damn Long Island Iced Tea it takes Russian Standard vodka, Stolen Rum, Botanist gin, Hacienda Viejo Reposado tequila, Cointreau, lemon, allspice and cola to make a stunning drink that’s hard to beat.
Gen Yamamoto, Tokyo, Japan
Gen Yamamoto, proprietor and mixologist of his self-named bar only accepts eight customers at a time and you need to book well in advance! The gentleman offers drinks from a seasonally changing menu that typifies the Japanese way of selecting fresh, locally sourced ingredients for their drinks and food. Unlike the other bars on this guide, Gen Yamamoto doesn’t have a publicized menu; rather he produces new and inventive cocktails on a regular basis, always working towards the next worthy cocktail recipe to add to his résumé.
You simply opt for the four or six cocktail selection with a very reasonable price of ¥4,500 ($40) or ¥6,500 ($60) respectively. He abides by the maxim that your drink is only as good as the worst ingredient you put in it. With this wisdom in mind he produced a recent cocktail that was a superlative blend of barley shōchū, white kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) and cream.
Our selection of some of the best cocktail bars in the world is a guide we will keep adding to. There are so many excellent imbibing locales in our great nation and across the globe that we will be updating and revisiting this regularly! Let us know which cocktail bars you think are worthy of being included.