Sandrae Lawrance, The Daily Telegraph, May 24, 2013
Who better to ask for their opinions on the best cocktail bars in the world than some of the world’s best bartenders? As recognition of their skills and creativity has grown, these well-respected figures have been enlisted to travel the world to judge cocktail-making competitions, host seminars and appear as guest bartenders. Sampling drinks and assessing service standards in competitor bars around the globe is all part of the job. From New York to Tokyo and Sydney, with a few London recommendations in between, they share the addresses of their favourite cocktail bars.
Jim Meehan's choices
I’m a fan of Bar High Five, Tokyo (Ginza 7-2-14 NO.26 Polestar Building, 4th Floor Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan). Look past the hair and glasses, shiny ice diamonds, and delicious cocktails prepared with elegant techniques, and you'll find a deeply empathetic, engaging bartender with a sharp wit and dark sense of humour – Hidetsugu Ueno is a national treasure. In Copenhagen, Ruby, (Nybrogade 10, 1203 Copenhagen, Denmark) goes to show that great bars evolve and improve over time. Since this jewel opened in June 2007, Rasmus Lomborg and his team have made numerous tweaks to the place: both philosophically and aesthetically, placing it in the conversation as one of the best bars in the world. In Boston, Drink (348 Congress Street, Boston, Mass. 02210) looks and operates differently than any bar you've ever been to, and it's arguably better. After many years mastering the art of hospitality behind the bar of a fine-dining restaurant No. 9 Park, John Gertsen has created the bar of his dreams.
Jim Meehan is owner of the award-winning PDT in New York and former American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail.
Salvatore Calabrase's choice
For me, it has to be a bar in the UK and being from a hotel background I’ll go for a hotel bar. I like Artesian at The Langham but my absolute favourite is the Connaught Bar . I love the feeling of this bar, the design is clever – sophisticated but comfortable with an incredible ambience and I like the way you feel like you’re seated in a corner wherever you’re positioned in the room. Head barman Agostino Perrone is an exceptional host, he works the back and front of bar in the most incredible fashion and his drinks are second to none.
In cocktail circles Salvatore Calabrase is known as The Maestro. He is bar manager at The Playboy Club in London, named Best Bar 2012 at The London Lifestyle Awards and World’s Best Drink Selection in the Spirited Awards at Tales of The Cocktail.
Ben Warren's choice
My choice is Buck and Breck, Berlin (Goncalo de Sousa Monteiro Brunnenstrasse 177, 10119 Berlin). It’s a great little hidden gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle next to an old police station in the district of Mitte. The small room is almost completely taken up by the large, black square bar and the 14 bar stools surrounding it. It has an almost chef's table kind of feel to it, with everyone sat around enjoying watching all the drinks being prepared. It's quite low-key in that the music isn't intrusive, the lighting isn’t too bright and people are not being overly loud. You're able to sit down and have a very well-crafted drink from or off menu and enjoy your night. The bar only has one station so there can be a nice rush on for the bartender, who works with most of his bottles in built-in speed rails in front of him. There are no branded bottles, instead they are distinguished by different stripes and dots around the neck. On my last visit all the guys working were really friendly and all the drinks I had were great. Overall Buck and Breck is a very nice bar to enjoy a very nice drink.”
Ben Warren is a bartender at Door 74, Amsterdam.
Hidetsugu Ueno's choice
I'm lucky enough to be able to visit bars all over the world from my base in Tokyo. When I'm overseas, it's 100 per cent work. I'm not a big drinker as I have a very weak tolerance for alcohol so when I go to bars, I'm not looking for drinks - I look for the quality of the bartenders and service. The bars I’ve chosen as my favourites are places are all about hospitality and making the customers happy. Seeing the guys in action in these venues provided me with the realisation that being a great bartender has nothing to do with nationality or race. For skilled staff and excellent service, my favourite bartenders and bars are: Mr Timo Janse at Door 74, Amsterdam (Reguliersdwarsstraat 74I, 1017 BN Amsterdam); Mr Simone Caporale at Artesian Bar, London (The Langham, 1c Portland Place, London W1B 1JA) and Mr Mario Kappes at Le Lion, Hamburg (Rathausstraße 3, 20095 Hamburg, Germany)
Hidetsugu Ueno is head bartender at Bar High Five, Tokyo.
Door 74, Amsterdam
Eric Lorincz's choice
I've been in bars all around the world and met fantastic bartenders but the one I visit frequently when I'm back in England is the Connaught Bar. This place always meets my expectations and the person behind it has a unique energy. When I go to a bar it's not just about the cocktails, it should be a full-package service - sometimes I just to The Connaught for a glass of champagne or a beer but it’s always perfectly served with so much attention to detail; even the glassware is specially made for the place. When I sit down and look around I always see a familiar face, and for me this is the most important component of a good bar – regulars are there for a reason: good service, great atmosphere and, of course, good quality drinks. The bar is also where I learnt a lot and worked with one of the most passionate teams. Although I’ve moved on, I’ll always remember the Connaught as where Agostino Perrone and I didn't go to work. We just enjoyed what we could do for others when they came for a drink or two.
Erik Lorincz, former bartender at the Connaught Bar, is head bartender at the American Bar at The Savoy and winner World Class 2010.
Agostino Perrone at work in the Connaught Bar
Paul Mathew's choices
When in London (and not at The Hide) I love the Zetter Townhouse (49-50 St John's Square London EC1V 4JJ) for its excellent and interesting drinks, as well as its quirky British feel. As they say, “it feels like the private residence of a most beloved, eccentric and indulgent great aunt”. The place is perfect for introducing London to bartender friends from overseas. 001 Hong Kong (LG/F Shop G1 Welley Building 97 Wellington Street, Hong Kong) is a nicely done speakeasy, so a good place to relax in a fast-paced city. I particularly like the entrance off a market street, hidden among the cuts of pork belly, bubbling pots and fresh greenery. Hyde & Seek Gastrobar (65/1 Athenee Residence, Soi Ruamrudee, Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok) isn’t at all Thai, but does what it sets out to do very well. Great food and it offers an astonishingly long drinks list of classics and their own quirky creations. Back in Beijing, I love MaoMaoChong (12 Ban Chang Hutong, Dong Cheng, Beijing Jiaodaokou S St, Beijing, China) There are some great bars in Beijing now, but this one isn’t just another generic ‘international’ bar – it’s in a local hutong building and makes novel drinks using infusions of Chinese ingredients.”
Paul Mathew is British bartender and drinks consultant based in Beijing. He owns The Hide bar in London.
Tim Philips' choice
I've been fortunate to do a fair bit of travelling in the last 12 months. It’s a wonderful thing how many great little spots have popped up around the world. I'd be doing an injustice to the drinking culture in my own back yard if I didn't mention my homeland favourites. These include The Everleigh (1/150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Melbourne), The Cornerhouse (281 Bondi Road, Bondi, Sydney NSW 2026) and, of course, my own spot, Bulletin Place (10-14 Bulletin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000). Now we have to just convince people to come to Australia…"
Tim Philips, Australian Bartender of the Year 2011, and World Class Bartender of the Year 2012
The Cornerhouse, Sydney
Monica Berg's choice
For the past few years my favourite bar has been Artesian at the Langham in London. This is the kind of place where I can take my mother for lunch, my father for a beer, my grandmother for champagne or my girlfriends for amazing cocktails. I love how one place can give you all this. I've had so many great moments in this bar, and I still remember how impressed I was the first time I visited. Not just by what is served, but also by how it is served. Everything is so thought through – even the smallest details. I think it's very rare to find places like this, where the staff so effortlessly makes you feel like the centre of the universe, and that's why I love going there.
Monica Berg, is bar manager at Ice Bar in Oslo
Jack McGarry's choice
Clover Club in Brooklyn is my favourite cocktail bar. It's the most consistent cocktail bar in New York City. Julie Reiner opened it in 2008 and I've yet to have a bad drink there. On top of that, it's a comfortable bar and there's no pretension with her programme; you could just as easily have a pint of beer and shot of whiskey as a well-made mixed drink. The food there is also consistently good. So for me, Clover Club as a package represents the best bar in NYC. Just a pity it doesn't do Guinness…
Jack McGarry is head bartender at Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog, New York
Marcis Dzelanais' choice
While travelling around Andalucia,I fell in love with La Bicicleta, (Cardenal González, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain), a tiny bar just at the intersection of Calle Cardenal Gonzales and Calle San Fernando. The interior was quite stripped back, with exposed pipe work – it looks like a trendy night spot you'd find in Dalston. It was the only place open at 2pm (everywhere else had closed for siesta). As they say only "mad dogs and Englishman go out in the midday sun", and I was in desperate need of a cold beer, so I ventured in. Not only did Pedro serve the best Jamon Iberico I had during the whole trip but he also made me fall in love with the gin and tonic again. They were made with such care and attention to detail, in a huge wine glass (as is common in Spain) with lots of big ice cubes and the tonic gently poured so as to not lose its effervescence; moe generally, the bar stocked an impressive selection of spirits, many of which I never seen before. It was simply great.