Editor Hamish Smith introduces the first ever Asia's 50 Best Bars list
So here we have it – Asia’s 50 Best Bars, Drinks International’s first regional spin-off of the World’s 50 Best Bars. Before you ask, why Asia? Well, simply because it’s the region that excites us most.
It’s a hackneyed view that things move more quickly in Asia, but there’s no denying its bar industry is developing at a dizzying pace. Hold on to your hats, bar world. Asia is coming – and its new breed of bartenders is also partial to hats.
Five years ago the Asian bar industry was dominated by the wise old men of Japan and Singapore, with Hong Kong just behind. That picture has dramatically changed – our list of 50 has bars from 12 cities.
The big change is in bartender-operated venues – a sure sign of a maturing landscape. In Asia's 50 Best Bars 2016 we have restaurant bars, tiki joints, grand hotel bars to rival anything in the world, and right now it feels like there are more speakeasies in Asia than there was in Prohibition.
You'll see from the Under the Numbers article that it was a close run thing between Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo to be crowned bar capital of Asia, but we’re giving the nod to Singapore. It is home to five of the top 10 bars and also Asia’s number one bar, 28 Hongkong Street, which stands a benevolent but considerable force in the region. One in three of the Asian Academy had it among their favourites. If ever there was a bar at the vanguard of a movement, it is Proof & Company’s 28 Hongkong Street. Congratulations to them, on what is a very special achievement.