British bars lead the way in 2021's World's 50 Best Bars list

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The Connaught Bar is top of the World’s 50 Best Bars list for the second year in a row – Britta Jaschinski

As the hospitality industry begins its staggering recovery from the effects of global lockdowns and the pandemic, there's some cause for celebration in Britain, as the highly anticipated list of the World’s 50 Best Bars was released, with three British bars making the list, including the top two entries.

The overall winner, at the very top of the list for the second year in a row, is London’s renowned Connaught Bar in Mayfair’s The Connaught hotel. The Cubist bar, designed by the late David Collins and in operation since 2008, was lauded for staying “true to its principles of presenting artful, modern drinks with graceful service in an elegant setting.”

The Connaught has been a mainstay of the list since 2010, usually appearing in the top five, before its win in 2020. Mark Sansom, content editor for The World’s 50 Best Bars, singled out Agostino Perrone, the venue’s director of mixology (as well as head mixologist Giorgio Bargiani and bar manager Maura Milia), for particular praise, lauding their “continued pursuit of excellence, which is encapsulated in the way they have developed and modernised the Martini cocktail.”

The number two position on the list is another win for Britain with Tayēr + Elementary. Located in the City Of London, it could scarcely be more different from The Connaught, highlighting the diversity of London’s bar scene.

While The Connaught is regarded for its adherence to tradition and luxury, at which a trolley with exquisite martini ingredients is wheeled from table to table, Tayēr + Elementary strives for modernistic minimalism and ultra-chic ingredients – where else would you find a ‘whey sour’?

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The rest of the top five was rounded out by other mainstays of the World’s 50 Best Bars list: The Clumsies in Athens (3), Paradiso in Barcelona (4), and Florería Atlántico in Buenos Aires (5), while the final British bar to make the top 50 was another in London; Kwānt just off Regent Street, which appeared in the list at 31, despite having been closed for most of the year due to pandemic-induced trading difficulties.

Still, in spite of Britain taking several of the top spots, this year’s list does make clear just how challenged the country’s hospitality sector has been over the past year – in 2020, British bars took nine places in the top 50.

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Previous names such as London’s Lyanness and Swift dropped down onto the longlist of 100 bars, while other winners such as Panda & Sons in Edinburgh and the Savoy’s American Bar have disappeared entirely.

It’s not just London which has been singled out for success either though. A ‘speakeasy’ in Cardiff, Lab 22, wins the awards’ inaugural Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu title.

The unassuming bar is located a five-minute walk from the city’s station and just round the corner from the local Wetherspoons and serves a revolving menu of just 12 single-serve ‘molecular mixology’ cocktails and two sharing cocktails all themed around scientific advancements.

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The menu features drinks based on artificial intelligence, the internet, and even time-travel (perhaps inspired by Cardiff’s association with a certain TARDIS-dweller.)

The World’s 50 Best Bars list is compiled by a group of 600 drinks industry experts, including writers, cocktail connoisseurs, and bartenders, is regarded as a real who’s who of the trade, though it has been criticised in the past for its narrow focus: the top spot has never been awarded to a bar outside either London or New York City.

The World's 50 Best Bars 2021

  1. Connaught Bar, London, UK

  2. Tayēr + Elementary, London, UK

  3. Paradiso, Barcelona, Spain

  4. The Clumsies, Athens, Greece

  5. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  6. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City, Mexico

  7. Coa, Hong Kong, China

  8. El Copitas, St Petersburg, Russia

  9. Jigger & Pony, Singapore, Singapore

  10. Katana Kitten, New York, US

  11. Two Schmucks, Barcelona, Spain

  12. Hanky Panky, Mexico City, Mexico

  13. Insider Bar, Moscow, Russia

  14. Baba au Rum, Athens, Greece

  15. Manhattan, Singapore, Singapore

  16. Atlas, Singapore, Singapore

  17. Zuma, Dubai, UAE

  18. The SG Club, Tokyo, Japan

  19. Drink Kong, Rome, Italy

  20. 1930, Milan, Italy

  21. Presidente, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  22. Maybe Sammy, Sydney, Australia

  23. Cantina OK!, Sydney, Australia

  24. Salmon Guru, Madrid, Spain

  25. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City, Mexico

  26. No Sleep Club, Singapore, Singapore

  27. Camparino in Galleria, Milan, Italy

  28. Café La Trova, Miami, US

  29. Little Red Door, Paris, France

  30. Dante, New York, US

  31. Kwānt, London, UK

  32. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo, Japan

  33. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  34. Attaboy, New York, US

  35. Lucy’s Flower Shop, Stockholm, Sweden

  36. MO Bar, Singapore, Singapore

  37. Sips, Barcelona, Spain

  38. Baltra Bar, Mexico City, Mexico

  39. Sober Company, Shanghai, China

  40. Tjoget, Stockholm, Sweden

  41. Epic, Shanghai, China

  42. Charles H, Seoul, South Korea

  43. Tippling Club, Singapore, Singapore

  44. Above Board, Melbourne, Australia

  45. Galaxy Bar, Dubai, UAE

  46. Re, Sydney, Australia

  47. Sidecar, New Delhi, India

  48. Union Trading Company, Shanghai, China

  49. DarkSide, Hong Kong, China

  50. Quinary, Hong Kong, China

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