The prestigious World's 50 Best Bars awards ceremony was held earlier this week, and Australia had its best showing in more than five years.
In a repeat of 2020 three Sydney bars made the cut, however this year they were joined by a new Melbourne entrant. (Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura's Byrdi, in Melbourne's CBD cracked the longlist at number 56.)
For the second year running Australia's highest-ranked venue was cocktail bar Maybe Sammy, which placed at 22. This was slightly down on last year's placing, but a testament to the staying power and consistency of a bar that's managed to rank for three consecutive years since opening.
"Making the list … is such an honour and a great achievement that we could never have imagined when we started," said co-founder Stefano Catino.
"We are so proud and happy to have achieved everything we have but we will keep pushing to be the best version of ourselves," Catino said. "We really hope the world can come to Australia soon and witness the amazing bar community we have here."
Another Sydney CBD winner was Cantina Ok! – the standing-room only mezcal bar from the Tio's Cerveceria team – placing just behind Maybe Sammy at number 23. It's a jump of five spots from its début appearance on the list last year.
The final Sydney bar to make the list is Matt Whiley's Re. The pioneering cocktail spot is aiming to be the world's first zero-waste bar. That ethos is present everywhere; from the menu which uses food waste and by-products (such as Murray Cod fat from Paddington restaurant Saint Peter), to the furniture – the "leather" banquette upholstery is made from pineapple leaf fibre. Re also took out the Ketel One sustainable bar award.
Over in Melbourne, Above Board, a low-key Collingwood bar with a cult following, placed at number 44. The hard-to-find Smith Street 12-seater has been an industry favourite since it opened, thanks to its tight cocktail list and striking, counter-seat-only design.
Lockdowns and their cascading effects – capacity limits, staff shortages, travel restrictions – have been damaging for all hospitality venues. But cocktail bars, with their reliance on highly skilled staff, typically small premises and low customer volume, have experienced a particularly difficult set of circumstances during the last two years. Australia has had numerous high-profile bar closures during COVID, especially in CBDs. But this year's showing is a sign the industry is finding its feet again, and its best days are hopefully still to come.
The World's 50 Best Bars: the full list
- Connaught Bar, London, UK
- Tayēr + Elementary, London, UK
- Paradiso, Barcelona, Spain
- The Clumsies, Athens, Greece
- Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Licorería Limantour, Mexico City, Mexico
- Coa, Hong Kong
- El Copitas, St Petersburg, Russia
- Jigger & Pony, Singapore
- Katana Kitten, New York, USA
- Two Schmucks, Barcelona, Spain
- Hanky Panky, Mexico City, Mexico
- Insider Bar, Moscow, Russia
- Baba au Rum, Athens, Greece
- Manhattan, Singapore
- Atlas, Singapore
- Zuma, Dubai, UAE
- The SG Club, Tokyo, Japan
- Drink Kong, Rome, Italy
- 1930, Milan, Italy
- Presidente, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Maybe Sammy, Sydney, Australia
- Cantina Ok!, Sydney Australia
- Salmon Guru, Madrid, Spain
- Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City, Mexico
- No Sleep Club, Singapore
- Camparino in Galleria, Milan, Italy
- Café La Trova, Miami, USA
- Little Red Door, Paris, France
- Dante, New York, US
- Kwānt, London, UK
- Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo, Japan
- Tres Monos, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Attaboy, New York, USA
- Lucy's Flower Shop, Stockholm, Sweden
- MO Bar, Singapore
- Sips, Barcelona, Spain
- Baltra Bar, Mexico City, Mexico
- Sober Company, Shanghai, China
- Tjoget, Stockholm, Sweden
- Epic, Shanghai, China
- Charles H, Seoul, South Korea
- Tippling Club, Singapore
- Above Board, Melbourne, Australia
- Galaxy Bar, Dubai, UAE
- Re, Sydney, Australia
- Sidecar, New Delhi, India
- Union Trading Company, Shanghai, China
- Darkside, Hong Kong
- Quinary, Hong Kong