Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021: Hong Kong's COA Tops The List For The First Time
Asia’s 50 Best Bars has named COA in Hong Kong the Best Bar in Asia for 2021. The bar, run by mixologist Jay Khan, focuses on tequila and mezcal with the aim of changing the perception of agave-based spirits in Asia. Last year's winner, Jigger & Pony in Singapore, dropped to second place, while the top five was rounded out by Tokyo's The SG Club, Taipei's Indulge Experimental Bistro and Shanghai's Sober Company.
As well as the ranking of the top 50 bars in Asia, a number of special awards were announced at the ceremony, which was broadcast online. The Campari One To Watch award went to a bar from Mainland China for the first time, bartender Cross Yu's Epic in Shanghai. The Michter's Art of Hospitality Award went to MO Bar in Singapore.
Two individuals were awarded this year including Taiwan-based Bannie Kang, who received the peer-voted Mancino Bartenders' Bartender Award, impressing the industry as well as guests at her bar Mu: Taipei, and Shingo Gokan of Speak Low and Sober Company, both in Shanghai, who was awarded the Roku Industry Icon, marking him out as the individual who has done more than any other to elevate the art of bartending across the continent.
The Heering Legend of the List is awarded to the bar that has performed most consistently since Asia's 50 Best Bar Awards first launched, though it can only be won once. This year, it went to a bar that has given rise to a number of bartenders at the forefront of Hong Kong's cocktail scene, Quinary, owned by esteemed mixologist Antonio Lai.
The London Essence Best New Opening also went to a Hong Kong bar. Barely a year old, John Nugent's The Diplomat took home the award. The bar, which serves its own twists on classic cocktails has been praised for its quality drinks, fine service and excellent food.
There were two winners of the Nikka Highest Climber Award, both of which went to bars which climbed 24 places. Sidecar in India ranked 16 on the 2021 list, while Caprice Bar at Four Seasons Hong Kong came it at number 10 this year. The Disaronno Highest New Entry went to Singapore-based bar No Sleep Club, which last year had taken home the Campari One to Watch Award.
Ahead of the virtual awards ceremony, the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award was announced, honouring Penicillin, which debuted on Asia's 50 Best Bars 2021 at number 30, and was rewarded for its commitment to upcycling and sourcing locally as far as possible.
As for this year's Asia's 50 Best Restaurants ranking, which also saw a Hong Kong-based restaurant––The Chairman––top the table, voting procedures were adjusted to account for travel restrictions and bar closures. The voting period was extended to cover the 18 months prior to February 2021, when votes were cast, and the number of votes per person was reduced from seven to five, with only one vote required to be for an establishment outside the country in which the voter is based. Despite the fact that many bars across Asia have been closed for extended periods of time over the last year due to the pandemic, the organisers hope that by releasing a list this year they will inspire guests to return to bars as and when they can.
And just as Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants released its 50-100 ranking in March, so Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 released its 51-100 Best Bars 2021, with the aim to shine a light on a greater number of bars in these challenging times. This list welcomed eight bars that had dropped from last year’s Asia's 50 Best Bars list, including The Old Man (Hong Kong), which dropped from 2 to 54; Gibson (Singapore), which fell from 25 to 66; Draft Land (Taipei, Taiwan), which dropped from 26 to 55; 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana (Hong Kong), which fell from 28 to 65; Rabbit Hole (Bangkok, Thailand), which went from 31 to 67; Bar Orchard Ginza (Tokyo, Japan), which fell from 41 to 72; The Back Room (Manila Philippines), which dropped from 45 to 51; and Coley (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), which went from 48 to 58.
The Asia's 50 Best Bars 2021 ranking is listed in full below (those with an asterisk are new entries)
1. COA (Hong Kong)
2. Jigger & Pony (Singapore)
3. The SG Club (Tokyo, Japan)
4. Indulge Experimental Bistro (Taipei, Taiwan)
5. Sober Company (Shanghai, China)
6. Manhattan (Singapore)
7. Atlas (Singapore)
8. No Sleep Club (Singapore) *
9. Bar Benfiddich (Tokyo, Japan)
10. Caprice Bar (Hong Kong)
11. The Bamboo Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)
12. Bar Trigona (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
13. Charles H (Seoul, South Korea)
14. Native (Singapore)
15. Hope & Sesame (Guangzhou, China)
16. Sidecar (New Delhi, India)
17. Bar Mood (Taipei, Taiwan)
18. Bee's Knees (Kyoto, Japan)
19. Room by Le Kief (Taipei, Taiwan)
20. The Diplomat (Hong Kong) *
21. 28 Hongkong Street (Singapore)
22. Tropic City (Bangkok, Thailand)
23. Tell Camellia (Hong Kong) *
24. Aha Saloon (Taipei, Taiwan)
25. Quinary (Hong Kong)
26. The Pontiac (Hong Kong)
27. High Five (Tokyo, Japan)
28. The Wise King (Hong Kong)
29. Barbary Coast (Singapore) *
30. Penicillin (Hong Kong) *
31. Union Trading Company (Shanghai, China)
32. Speak Low (Shanghai, China)
33. Union Brasserie, Bakery & Bar (Jakarta, Indonesia)
34. Bar Cham (Seoul, South Korea)
35. Backstage Cocktail Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)
36. Tippling Club (Singapore)
37. Junglebird (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
38. The Curator (Manila, Philippines)
39. D.Bespoke (Singapore)
40. Darkside (Hong Kong) *
41. Alice (Seoul, South Korea)
42. The Old Man (Singapore)
43. Bar Trench (Tokyo, Japan)
44. Le Chamber (Seoul, South Korea)
45. MO Bar (Singapore)
46. Vesper (Bangkok, Thailand)
47. Three X Co (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) *
48. Teens of Thailand (Bangkok, Thailand)
49. Sago House (Singapore) *
50. Star Bar (Tokyo, Japan)