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Asia’s 50 Best Bars revealed for 2020

With restrictions easing ever so slightly across the country and Australian bars have begun to reopen, there’s the significant feeling of hope in the air. 

Meanwhile in Asia, where some nations have been hit hard by COVID-19 and some commended for their response to the pandemic, the 50 Best Bars have been revealed in a virtual countdown. Rather than cancel the awards this year, 50 Best and the Asian bar community decided to push ahead with the list publication, to “instil optimism and positivity within the bar industry as the continent begins to open up.”

Likewise as our own continent begins to open back up, Asia’s 50 Best Bars can offer inspiration for venues coming back on the scene. The post-pandemic future is still unclear, but understanding what is winning in the international industry may help give you an edge.

Number one on the 2020 list was Jigger & Pony in Singapore which also won Singapore’s Best Bar. Co-founded by Gan Guoyi and Indra Kantono, it specialises in thoughtful reimaginations of classic drinks like the Mango Hazelnut Daiquiri. The bar debuted in the list in 2016, going on to win last year’s Highest Climber Award after rising 33 places in the list to be ranked number nine. 

Mark Sansom, Content Editor for Asia’s 50 Best Bars, said: “It is wonderful to see a new Number One and it is a credit to Jigger & Pony’s development that the team has created a brilliant bar that appeals to such a wide range of guests.” 

The Jigger & Pony team took to Facebook to celebrate the win, writing: “Wow, we are still reeling… We’re so so thrilled and we have no words describe the wave of emotions we had when it was announced that Jigger & Pony had won Best Bar.”

“We would like to thank everyone for all the continued support and love. Thank you to all our customers, regulars, supportive community, we really couldn’t have done it without you guys. This period has not been easy for us; the Jigger & Pony family have been working extra hard, giving it all our best during these abnormal times, and we’ve found ourselves having to adapt constantly to new challenges being tossed our way.”

Across the rest of the list, a total of 10 countries are featured, with Greater China having the highest number of bars represented. Alongside the list, a number of special awards were announced in the leadup to the final countdown. These included:

  • Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award: Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur.
  • Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award: Manhattan, Singapore
  • Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award: Jay Khan, from Coa, Hong Kong
  • Campari One To Watch Award: No Sleep Club, Singapore
  • Heering Legend of the List Award: Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei
  • London Essence Best New Opening: The Old Man, Singapore
  • Disaronno Highest New Entry Award: Bee’s Knees, Kyoto
  • Highest Climber Award: Bar Mood, Taipei

According to Asia’s 50 Best, these special awards and the full list itself is not designed as a usual celebration, but as recognition of the local industry. 

“We hope that the announcement of the 2020 list will deliver a message of solidarity and encouragement during this harrowing period as the bars in Asia look to get back on their feet. The virtual ceremony this year was not designed as a celebration, but rather as a recognition of all the bar teams’ hard work,” Sansom said.

Other news from the virtual ceremony is that Singapore has been confirmed again as the location for next year’s awards.

Jean Ng, Executive Director, Attractions, Entertainment & Tourism Concept Development, Singapore Tourism Board, said: “During these challenging times, it is more important than ever to celebrate the best in the business.”

“These events will play a part in the industry’s recovery, and we are excited to welcome the world to experience Singapore’s vibrant nightlife offerings when the situation improves.” 

See the full list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars below.

  1. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
  2. The Old Man, Hong Kong, China
  3. Coa, Hong Kong, China
  4. Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei, Taiwan
  5. Atlas, Singapore
  6. Native, Singapore
  7. The Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand
  8. Manhattan, Singapore
  9. The SG Club, Tokyo, Japan
  10. Aha Saloon, Taipei, Taiwan
  11. Vesper, Bangkok, Thailand
  12. Sober Company, Shanghai, China
  13. Bar Mood, Taipei, Taiwan
  14. Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  15. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo, Japan
  16. Quinary, Hong Kong, China
  17. Tippling Club, Singapore
  18. The Wise King, Hong Kong, China
  19. Speak Low, Shanghai, China
  20. High Five, Tokyo, Japan
  21. Bee’s Knees, Kyoto, Japan
  22. The Old Man, Singapore
  23. D.Bespoke, Singapore
  24. Tropic City, Bangkok, Thailand
  25. Gibson, Singapore
  26. Draft Land, Taipei, Taiwan
  27. Room by Le Kief, Taipei, Taiwan
  28. 8 1⁄2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China
  29. Charles H, Seoul, South Korea
  30. 28 HongKong Street, Singapore
  31. Rabbit Hole, Bangkok, Thailand
  32. Nutmeg & Clove, Singapore
  33. Backstage Cocktail Bar, Bangkok, Thailand
  34. Caprice Bar, Hong Kong, China
  35. The Pontiac, Hong Kong, China
  36. Hope & Sesame, Guangzhou, China
  37. Junglebird, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  38. The Odd Couple, Shanghai, China
  39. Bar Trench, Tokyo, Japan
  40. Sidecar, New Delhi, India
  41. Bar Orchard Ginza, Tokyo, Japan
  42. The Curator, Manila, Philippines
  43. Union Brasserie, Bakery & Bar, Jakarta, Indonesia
  44. Lobster Bar & Grill, Hong Kong, China
  45. The Back Room, Manila, Philippines
  46. MO Bar, Singapore
  47. Alice, Seoul, South Korea
  48. Coley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  49. Le Chamber, Seoul, South Korea
  50. Bar Cham, Seoul, South Korea
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