Four years at the top for Alex Kratena and Team Artesian, photographed by Lawrence Watson
Well, what do you know, Artesian have only gone and done it again. For the fourth consecutive year if you don’t mind. We know Alex Kratena, Simone Caporale, Roman Foltan, Rudi Carraro, Balazs Molnar and the team are good, heck, we know they’re the proverbial shizzle but even so, it’s hard enough to get on to The World’s 50 Best Bars list yet alone hang on to the coveted top spot for this amount of time. Particularly when there are so many amazing bars from all corners of the globe all hoping to knock you off the perch. (In the friendliest way possible, of course)…
In total 27 cities in 19 countries are represented this year – and they’re not all the usual suspects either. There are a good mix of small independents, large chains, swanky hotel bars, quirky speakeasies – some headed up by named bartenders, others quietly bobbing along, doing their own thing. As for the places, they take in everywhere from Chicago to Copenhagen, Sydney and Singapore and plenty of other hotspots in between.
In short, it’s an exciting time to be a cocktail lover. You can rock up pretty much anywhere in the world and be assured that you can get your lips acquainted with a pretty impressive drink. “It’s kind of insane that a small bar from Tel Aviv is listed among the 50 best in the world, almost impossible to grasp,” says Bar Shira from Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar, this year’s highest climber which jumps straight in at a mind blowingly impressive and well deserved 17. “It makes us, the team who are working relentlessly to preserve and create new standards extremely happy and proud. I believe that what got us to this point is our mission to raise the standards of drinking in Israel culture, making Tel Aviv known around the globe and bringing the world and bartending legends to our city to learn from their experiences.”
Another new entry is The Clumsies in Athens, opened less than a year ago and rocketing in to the chart at a cool-as-you-like 22. Like the team at Imperial, they’ve worked tirelessly to build their profile on a local level but have also made it their mission to invite global bartenders to their bar to help spread the word around the world as well. The formula has paid off. “It’s a dream come true and motivation for us to go higher in the years to come,” says Vasilis Kyritsis, one half of the duo. Nikos Bakoulis, his partner concurs. “Knowing that we’re listed amongst the top 50 bars in the world is great praise for our hard work and we want to thank you to all our supporters all over the world who believed in us.”
The eclectic list is down to the diversity of the voting panel. “The World’s 50 Best Bars is an industry poll voted for by an Academy of 412 members – what we consider the strongest, most diverse collection of industry experts ever assembled to express their view on the best bars in the world,” says Hamish Smith, Editor. New Academy members are recruited during the first half of the year, voting takes place from mid June to July, votes are checked in August and The World’s 50 Best Bars magazine is written in September. “We now have voters in 53 countries and 117 cities with members in all the major centres of hospitality across North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, and this year we expanded our reach further into areas that have shown development in the bar world, such as the Middle East, Scandinavia and Indo-China. We have voters in Vietnam, Iceland, Cambodia, Lebanon, Malaysia and Kenya, not to tick boxes but we have found professionals operating in these areas that know what they are talking about. The World’s 50 Best Bars is the definitive word on the best bars in the world.”
Team Artesian does it again! Photography Rob Lawson
So according to these experts which city comes out top of the whole list? Well, it’s a close call but London narrowly beat New York with nine bars in the top 50 – five of which appear in the top 10. But why? “London sits at a sort of geographical and cultural crossroads in many respects, ” muses Edmund Weil, owner of Nightjar by way of explanation. “We have the luxury of the whole of the EU to draw upon as a workforce which means we get lots of influences from a whole range of hospitality and culinary cultures, all refined through the lens of the one of the world’s great metropolises. At the same time everyone in the London industry keeps abreast of developments across the Atlantic, since the US trade remains something of a benchmark.”
And who better to ask for his thoughts on what makes London the cocktail capital of the world than the man at the top, Alex Kratena? “I think the reason behind London bars being so awesome is because they are run by people from many different backgrounds emerging from many different cultural and bar schools/styles, in short, there’s lot of talented people who constantly strive to push forward.” No one can argue with that.
For more details, see The World’s 50 Best Bars
None of the people we spoke to were aware of their positions on the list when we spoke to them – apart from Hamish Smith of course, he’s the one who compiled the whole thing!