On 7 December the annual list of The World’s 50 Best Bars will be announced in London. Once again returning as a physical event — after the 2020 virtual awards — top bartenders, bar owners and cocktail aficionados from around the world will be recognised. The programme is also set to be broadcast on the Facebook page and the 50 Best Bars TV channel on YouTube, for cocktail lovers around the world eager to join in the celebrations.
In conjunction with this, a relaunch of 50 Best Discovery has taken place, providing eager travellers inspiration to start making plans based on where they want to eat and drink. “We chose September this year to do this as airlines were relaunching their routes and there felt like a spirit of revival in the hospitality industry. We wanted to support restaurants and bars by driving bookings their way,” says Mark Sansom, content editor at The World’s 50 Best Bars.
We reached out to Sansom, along with bartenders who have been recognised in previous years, to help predict what cocktail trends to look out for in the coming year.
1. A focus on the kitchen
Bars in Singapore have had to cope with varying Covid-19 rules including early cut-off times, as well as live and recorded music restrictions. Many establishments — both here and around the world — have suffered with alcohol license issues as well. Manhattan’s bar manager Rusty Cerven, points out that they’ve had to be swift and nimble in switching their approach to focus on culinary. “This year has been unprecedented in the number of bar-chef collaborations. We will no doubt see more of this. In 2021, we had the pleasure of working with Michelin-starred venues such as Braci and Odette for our Friends of Manhattan Chef series, where cocktails take as much emphasis as the finesse you see on the plates,” Cerven says. Manhattan ranked No. 6 at Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 and No.14 at The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020
2. Return of the martini
Did the martini every really leave? “It’s a polarising drink that has gone through so many changes in popularity and variations of style,” notes Jesse Vida, the head bartender at Atlas. “I’ve noticed that as bars have been bringing back the negroni and old fashioned as a must-have item on the menu, guests have been calling for martinis more. Bartenders love to drink and make them. We’re seeing classically styled house variations of the martini at both long-standing titans and new modern styled bar programs.” Atlas ranked ranked No. 7 at Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 and No.4 at The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020
3. Drinks that tell stories
With the gradual uptick in business and leisure travel, there will be more stories behind each drink. “What each drink represents and how it can transport you to a certain place will become more relevant and more appealing,” Giovanni Graziadei, the principal bartender at Jigger & Pony tells us. He points out that craft products from all over the world will continue to be used in these cocktails, with a lot of emphasis on the people and the culture behind them. One example can be found in the Korean Boilermaker, part of Jigger & Pony’s newly launched menuzine, A Decent Menu. “Inspired by the humble somaek (soju bomb), we pair artisanal soju from Lee Gang Ju — a distillery that has been producing liquor since Joseon Dynasty — with whisky, hops, and passionfruit.” Jigger & Pony ranked ranked No. 2 at Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 and No.9 at The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020
4. The art of fermentation
Mark Sansom, content editor at The World’s 50 Best Bars, points out that fermentation has found its way into cocktail bars and notes that it’s a conscious approach that’s here to stay. “The use of fermentation is not something that is unfamiliar to our industry. René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, which placed No. 1 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 list, has been using fermentation as a means to preserve ingredients since the restaurant opened in 2003,” Sansom says. Today, with the conversation on food security at its peak, restaurants and bars around the world are stepping up on their part to reduce food waste through techniques that can extend an ingredient’s storage life, or maximise its usability. Sansom points out that Penicillin, in Hong Kong, is one such example. Owned by veterans Agung and Laura Prabowo and Roman and Katy Ghale, Penicillin aims to become the first zero-waste bar in the city through a ‘closed-loop’ system of production. The bar has a fermentation room where excess ingredients such as lemon skins and seeds are turned into a sparkling lemon “wine” for use in cocktails.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.