In the inaugural edition of Asia's 50 Best Bars awards -- a spinoff of the World's 50 Best Bars -- a panel of 154 judges including “high-level” bartenders, bar consultants, brand ambassadors, journalists and global bar hoppers weighed in to pronounce the best drinking hotspots across Asia.
Taking the top spot is a Singapore bar famous for its discretion. Since opening in 2011, 28 Hongkong Street has built up hype by playing itself down in the manner of a secret, clandestine speakeasy.
Tucked away in a downtown thoroughfare, the bar is non-descript with nothing but the street number to identify itself: There is no awning, no flashing lights, or swanky, velvet-roped entrance.
But once inside the beige doors, the bar's swish clientele sip on cocktails like the Modest Mule, made with lemongrass-laced vodka, ginger beer, lime and rosemary, and the colorfully named Whore's Bath, made with manuka honey vodka, umeshu (liqueur made with Japanese apricots) poire liqueur, lemon and Hawaiian lava salt pickled ginger.
“28 Hongkong Street is an emblem of the region,” editors write. “A benchmark of quality across drinks and hospitality.”
Overall, Singapore and Hong Kong tied with nine spots each on the list, followed by Tokyo, which scored eight spots.
But with four of the top 10 spots, including the No. 1 ranking, Singapore is the big winner this year.
The results also surprised editors, who predicted Shanghai to finish fourth after Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo with the number of bars represented.
Instead, Bangkok nabbed the spot with six addresses including Vesper, the city's top-ranked bar in 17th place.
“Bangkok's people have a serious case of cocktail fever and, with the number of international 'tenders setting up in the city and locals opening up their own places, it is only going in one direction from here.”
Here are the top 10 bars in Asia, according to Asia's 50 Best Bars:
1. 28 Hongkong Street, Singapore
2. Speak Low, Shanghai
3. High Five, Tokyo
4. Lobster Bar & Grill, Hong Kong
5. Manhattan, Singapore,
6. Quinary, Hong Kong
7. Operation Dagger, Singapore
8. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
9. Union Trading Company, Shanghai
10. Omakase + Appreciate, Kuala Lumpur