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Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 winners announced: Hong Kong bars on the rise

Destin Tay 9 May 2019
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At the 4th edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars held on 9 May at Capitol Theatre, China swept the list with 12 bars, as Singapore came close with 11 inductions.

In the second consecutive year that Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony has been held in Singapore, the title of top bar went to… The Old Man, Hong Kong, dethroning the previous reigning two-year champion, Manhattan Bar. It’s an unprecedented win for Agung Prabowo, the first Asian bartender to take home the highest honour.

The exterior of this year’s Legend of the List, Manhattan Bar

Manhattan Bar’s manager of three and a half years, Philip Bischoff, departed the hotel last December to relocate to Bangkok, with the Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River opening later this year. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Antinori of Charles H, Seoul – this year at no. 14, a climb from 2018’s no. 21 – had also relinquished his role there to assume the head position at the Four Seasons Hong Kong. Both bar maestros were also appointed beverage ambassadors for Four Seasons Asia Pacific.

 

This year’s highest climber, Jigger & Pony

The rivalry between Singapore and Hong Kong was again fierce, with the Lion City fielding 11 bars and China (including Hong Kong) holding strong with 12 bars. Notable wins for Singapore include Jigger and Pony (a meteoric rise of 33 spots this year) clinching The Highest Climber award, and Manhattan Bar, which was named the Legend of the List – a celebration of a bar that has consistently displayed excellent quality throughout its history of being on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars.

 

Agung Prawobo, the first Asian Bartender to clinch the top award

The Old Man Hong Kong, a standout watering hole inspired by Ernest Hemingway which jumped to number 5 last year in its debut, is now the best bar in Asia. Its sister outpost The Old Man Singapore opened too late for nominations this year, but will be the one to watch in next year’s edition.

 

Union Brasserie Bakery & Bar’s Public Enemy No. 1

Indonesia, from having three bars on the list last year, Potato Head Bali (no. 36 in 2018), Loewy (no. 39 in 2018), and Union Brasserie Bakery & Bar, Jakarta (no. 41 in 2018), fell a little short. This year, the country was only represented by Union Brasserie Bakery & Bar, which improved two spots to no. 39 and earned the accolade of the best bar in Indonesia.

 

Campari One to Watch; Pussyfoot Saloon

Special awards were given to Pussyfoot Saloon of Seoul as the rising star of the region, claiming the title of Campari’s One to Watch. Bar Trigona of Kuala Lumpur clinched Ketel One Sustainable Bar award, for its dedication to sustainability in their cocktail program, where they use normally discarded ingredients, such as pineapple peel. Japanese cocktail master, Shingo Gokan, took home the Altos Bartender’s Bartender, recognised by his fellow peers for his impact and contribution to the bar scene with his unconventional cocktails and unique bar concepts.

 

The Asia’s 50 Best Bars List was also graced by 12 new entries to the list compared to last year’s eight, the highest amount of inductees in the list so far. Of note is Coa, Hong Kong, a mezcal and tequila bar helmed by Jay Kahn, which was named the Highest New Entry at no. 12 in its debut appearance. Bangkok leads the table with four new entries this year, Tropic City (no. 31), Rabbit Hole (no. 34), Smalls (no. 42), and Teens of Thailand (no. 48).

 

Here are Asia’s 50 Best Bars for 2019:

  1. The Old Man, Hong Kong
  2. Manhattan Bar, Singapore
  3. Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taipei
  4. Native, Singapore
  5. Atlas, Singapore
  6. High Five, Tokyo
  7. Speak Low, Shanghai
  8. The Bamboo Bar, Bangkok
  9. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
  10. Quinary, Hong Kong
  11. Tippling Club, Singapore
  12. Coa, Hong Kong (new entry)
  13. The SG Club, Tokyo (new entry)
  14. Charles H, Seoul
  15. Gibson, Singapore
  16. Sober Company, Shanghai
  17. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
  18. The Wise King, Hong Kong (new entry)
  19. Le Chamber, Seoul
  20. Backstage, Bangkok
  21. 28 HongKong Street, Singapore
  22. Operation Dagger, Singapore
  23. Bar Trench, Tokyo
  24. Aha Saloon, Taipei (new entry)
  25. D.Bespoke, Singapore
  26. Vesper, Bangkok
  27. Coley, Kuala Lumpur
  28. Bar Orchard Ginza, Tokyo
  29. Alice Cheongdam, Seoul
  30. Union Trading Company, Shanghai
  31. Tropic City, Bangkok (new entry)
  32. The Pontiac, Hong Kong
  33. Lobster Bar & Grill, Hong Kong
  34. Rabbit Hole, Bangkok (new entry)
  35. Hope & Sesame, Guangzhou (new entry)
  36. Stockton, Hong Kong
  37. The Curator, Manila
  38. Otto E Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong
  39. Union Brasserie Bakery & Bar, Jakarta
  40. Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur
  41. Employees Only, Singapore
  42. Smalls, Bangkok (new entry)
  43. Bar Mood, Taipei (new entry)
  44. Jungle Bird, Kuala Lumpur
  45. Draft Land, Taipei (new entry)
  46. The Other Room, Singapore
  47. Oto, Manila
  48. Teens of Thailand, Bangkok (new entry)
  49. Mixology Salon, Tokyo
  50. The Back Room, Manila

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