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Under the numbers
Hamish Smith, editor of The World's 50 Best Bars, dissects the results to reveal which countries and cities have contributed most
THE WORLD’S 50 BEST BARS is a ranking from 50 to 1 – but under these numbers some interesting patterns can be found. By region, Europe is the dominant force, this year contributing 22 bars to the 50. Its contingent comprised bars from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. With such a tradition for fine drinking, it’s no wonder European cities fair well with our Academy.
North America has the second-most bars in the list, with the US contributing all 14 - New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami are the US bar scenes to visit. While the European representation is down one and North America is on a par with last year, Asia has seen a rise. Last year it contributed five bars to the list, but this year it has seven – five of which are in the top half of the list. Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai are now home to members of The World’s 50 Best Bars.
Australasia cuts a slightly eroded figure this year with three bars present – though they all come from Australia, making the nation joint third in the country stakes, behind the US and the UK. Latin America grows its representation, with listed bars now in Puerto Rico, Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Africa & the Middle East has seen its number drop from two to one, Central Station from Beirut debuting at number 26.
But there is more than one way to cut the cake. Europe wins by region, the US by country, but by city London takes the crown of bar capital of the world. It managed nine of the 50 bars this year, pipping New York, which finished with eight. London also registered five of the top 10, to New York’s four, though the Big Apple has, of course, the kudos of the 2016 champion, Dead Rabbit. The Clumsies from Athens was the only bar outside New York and London to make the top 10, but Athens finishes joint fourth in the city charts. Singapore and San Francisco, both with three bars, finished third. Other cities with two bars in the list come in the form of Paris, Hong Kong and Sydney. In total 27 cities from 19 countries contributed bars this year.
The highest new entry was The Gibson from London, which debuted at a lofty seventh. But its feat is not unprecedented – Artesian entered the list in third in 2011, Dead Rabbit in fifth in 2013 and Canon in seventh in 2014. It was a year of new bars making an impact in the top half of the list, with Speak Low from Shanghai debuting at 15th, Operation Dagger in 21st, Linje Tio from Stockholm in 25th, and Central Station in Beirut in 26th.
THE BIG NEWS
Some of the biggest stories of the 2016 list were made by those bars that failed to make it. Four-time champion Artesian (2012-2015) plummeted out of the 50 this year. Since 2009, the highest bar not to re-enter the list the following year had placed sixth, but over the years there have only been a handful of examples of top-20 bars failing to maintain their status. Imperial Craft, therefore, is another seemingly unlikely omission from the 2016 list – having finished 17th in 2015.
The middle order – normally a safe zone – has suddenly become unstable ground. Elephant bar (24th in 2015), The Everleigh (25th) White Lyan (26th) and Beaufort (27th) all headed for the exit, as did three-timer Delicatessen from 32nd and four-timer Door 74 from 33rd. Other notable absences are five-time members 69 Colebrooke Row and Schumann’s and seven-time members Le Lion and Dry Martini. This year has served as a reminder that no bar gets a pass for the following year, no matter their past achievements.
The highest climber in the 2016 list came in the form of Dandelyan. Not long open, it squeaked into the list in 2015 at 50th and this year rose 47 places to third. This is the highest climb of any bar in the history of The World’s 50 Best Bars. Nomad Bar of New York also rocketed this year, up 28 places, and Little Red Door of Paris rose 25 positions.
Those to have fallen the furthest but maintain 50 Best status are Buck & Breck, down 34 places from 16th to 50th; Bulletin Place, down 18 spots from 28th to 46th; Nightjar, 16 positions from 3rd to 19th; and Jerry Thomas Project, which slid 12 from 21st to 33rd. Bars dropping in double-digit places and finishing in the second half of the list may well fear for their places come 2017.
The good news is that bars can bounce back. Baba au Rum returned in 40th after a two-year absence, while Bramble (47th), Callooh Callay (48th) and Floreria Atlantico (49th) all returned after a fallow 2015.