The World’s 50 Best Bars celebrated its 10th anniversary in New York City on February 12th, 2019, with a unique event. Since the inaugural ranking in 2009, The World’s 50 Best Bars has presented 10 annual lists to guide discerning drinkers to the best international destinations and simultaneously reward outstanding talent. The World’s 50 Best Bars organization oversees a body of 500 experts from across the globe whose votes make up the list each year, helping to shine a light on the most innovative and exciting developments in the cocktail world. The annual awards ceremony has been held in London since 2012.
To celebrate this milestone anniversary, a special edition of the popular #50BestTalks event took place at Guastavino’s in Manhattan – the first ever 50 Best Bars event held in the US – featuring inspirational and thought-provoking talks from the six acclaimed bartenders who have led their bars to the number one spot on the list over the past decade. After their six individual presentations, the pioneers of the bar world took part in a panel discussion about the decade that was and the future to be, chaired by one of the bar sector’s foremost authorities, David Wondrich. Here are some of the highlights:
Jonathan Downey, Milk & Honey, UK (The World’s Best Bar 2009, 2010): “The two most important things for a great bar are the people who work there and the people who go there. We should be doing everything we can to attract and retain really great people to work with and to drink with.”
Jim Meehan, Please Don’t Tell, US (The World’s Best Bar 2011): “I hope we’ll continue to epitomise the values of our industry that I’m most proud of: hospitality, generosity, hard work, ingenuity, comradery and some new ones I’m excited to see more of: social progress, environmental consciousness and political action.”
Alex Kratena, Artesian, UK (The World’s Best Bar 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015): “I suggest we give bartenders the information that will make them start to think. We need to tell the young bartenders the ‘why’. We’ve been telling them for a very long time the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, but we need to show them the inner workings and why we do what we do.”
Jillian Vose, The Dead Rabbit, US (The World’s Best Bar 2016): “The balance in the bar makes or breaks the guest experience as a whole. The music, the lighting, the volume in the room, the cleanliness of the bathrooms and the bartenders’ uniforms, how friendly they are, how people are welcomed… Everything makes that balance. You can make great drinks, but the drinks won’t taste as good as the experience.”
Declan McGurk, American Bar, UK (The World’s Best Bar 2017): “Storytelling is ingrained in your origins. It is a part of your start and it's one of the most important things you are taught to enjoy. Thus, relating it to what we sell is an essential part of working in a bar. You don’t get a lot of time with the guest, so maybe try and turn the guest into the storyteller.”
Ryan Chetiyawardana, Dandelyan, UK (The World’s Best Bar 2018): "Our industry is about making people happy. It’s about bringing people together and the wonderful ways food and drinks help people have a great time. But that doesn’t mean it can’t coexist with the idea of us doing things in a way that is conscientious. Trying to shake up these definitions is the way that we’re going to build a more balanced future.”
Watch the playlist with all the videos of the bartenders' presentations on 50 Best's YouTube channel.
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With thanks to our partners for the 10th Anniversary: