Coa in Hong Kong is once again Asia’s best bar.
The bar, which also took the No. 1 ranking from Asia’s 50 Best Bars last year, highlights agave spirits; the name is drawn from a machete-like tool used to harvest agave.
The Mexican-inspired space is dimly lit by candles, with hand-drawn wall murals of goddesses and mythical creatures—as well as a real coa brought from Oaxaca.
Coa’s featured cocktails include La Paloma de Oaxaca, with tequila blanco, mezcal joven, lime, grapefruit soda and worm salt; and the Ancho Highball, which also features tequila blanco, plus salted plum, ancho chile, and guava soda.
“We’ve been very fortunate that all the hard work from our team has been acknowledged and appreciated,” says founder Jay Khan, who opened the place in 2017, in an email. “Obviously it’s been very tough for everyone due to the adversity caused by Covid.”
He adds that last year’s No. 1 ranking “was like a dream for us. It really opened a lot of doors for us. We’ve had bigger opportunities since to promote and educate about traditional agave spirits.”
In another repeat of last year’s list, Singapore’s Jigger & Pony took the No. 2 spot, just as the city-state has begun to loosen many of its pandemic-related restrictions on the food and beverage industry. Jigger & Pony features cocktails like the Charlie Chaplin, with sloe gin, gin, apricot, and lime; and the Ruby Spritz, which has cocchi rosa, melati, purple carrot, and soda.
“With longer operational hours and bigger group sizes allowed, we’ve definitely seen an improvement in the business,” says Giovanni Graziadei, Jigger & Pony’s principal bartender. “Travel has also brought back international guest shifts, which used to be a huge part of our bar.”
He says other pandemic-related challenges, including staffing shortages and increased overhead costs, remain an issue. “Nonetheless, the relaxation of restrictions has brought a breath of fresh air for both us and customers,” Graziadei says.
The industry representatives who publish Asia’s 50 Best Bars gathered in person in Bangkok for the announcements. “It’s not been without its challenges” said content editor Mark Sansom, via video, about navigating during the pandemic. “But it’s reassuring to see that the bar community wants to get back together.”
He highlighted the presence of Indian bars on the list, led by Goa’s Tesouro at No. 4 spot, and New Delhi’s Sidecar at 14.
Hong Kong’s Argo won the Highest New Entry award, at No. 3, while No. 5 Bar Benfiddich in Tokyo garnered the Remy Martin Legend of the List award.
MO Bar in Singapore’s Mandarin Oriental hotel scored the Nikka Highest Climber award; it rose to No. 8 from 45 last year.
The format of the contest was changed due to pandemic restrictions. The 2022 ranking, taking into account pandemic-related travel limitations and dining restrictions, is meant to incorporate experiences across the voting period between June 2020 and January 2022.
Voters were asked to vote for a maximum of five bars in their own country or special administrative region (SAR), with the option to vote for a further two bars located outside of their country or SAR in Asia, for seven bars total.
Bars in places that are opening up, like Singapore, are optimistic about the road ahead. It was another good year for the city-state, which had three spots in the top 10, including Manhattan at No. 9.
“It’s only going up from here,” said Juan Yi Jun, founder and head bartender at Singapore’s No Sleep Club, which came in at No. 15. “Many of our plans had to come to a halt during uncertain times, but now that we are looking at the country seriously opening up again, we are excited for many better things to come,” he says.
Asia’s 50 Best Bar rankings are based on the votes of members of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy, a group of about 220 people selected for their expertise on Asia’s bar scene. Earlier this year, the 50 Best Restaurants Academy released its lists for the Top 50 restaurants in both the Middle East and Asia.
Here are the best bars in Asia with their locations:
Top 50 Restaurants in Asia
1. Coa – Hong Kong
2. Jigger & Pony – Singapore
3. Argo – Hong Kong
4. Tesouro – Colva, India
5. Bar Benfiddich – Tokyo
6. Indulge Experimental Bistro – Taipei
7. Charles H – Seoul
8. MO Bar – Singapore
9. Manhattan – Singapore
10. BKK Social Club – Bangkok
11. Sober Company – Shanghai
12. Republic – Singapore
13. Darkside – Hong Kong
14. Sidecar – New Delhi
15. No Sleep Club – Singapore
16. Quinary – Hong Kong
17. Tropic City – Bangkok
18. Hope & Sesame – Guangzhou
19. Vesper – Bangkok
20. Lamp Bar – Nara, Japan
21. The SG Club – Tokyo
22. Penicillin – Hong Kong
23. Atlas – Singapore
24. Aha Saloon – Taipei
25. Bar Trench – Tokyo
26. Hoots’ – New Delhi
27. Tippling Club – Singapore
28. Bar Cham – Seoul
29. Bar Trigona – Kuala Lumpur
30. Home – New Delhi
31. Sago House – Singapore
32. The Cocktail Club – Jakarta
33. The Pontiac – Hong Kong
34. The Wise King – Hong Kong
35. Junglebird – Kuala Lumpur
36. Nutmeg & Clove – Singapore
37. Analogue – Singapore
38. The Aubrey – Hong Kong
39. Le Chamber – Seoul
40. Alice – Seoul
41. Memento Mori – Tokyo
42. Smoke & Bitters – Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka
43. Asia Today – Bangkok
44. Copitas – Bengaluru
45. Union Trading Company – Shanghai
46. The Bamboo Bar – Bangkok
47. Bee’s Knees – Kyoto
48. Zest – Seoul
49. 28 HongKong Street – Singapore
50. Speak Low – Shanghai
This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here