Bartending is not a game for individuals, but it is clear that Simone Caporale has now won the ranking of the 50 best bars in the world five times. He seems to excel as a half duo: his four victories at Artesian from 2012 to 2015 with Alex Kratena, and now this year with Sips, which he shares with Marc Alverez.
We can talk as much as you want about general bar trends and the importance of location (and we will), but the bar business remains one where good leadership is essential and personality matters.
Always an entertainer with character and with a glint in his eyes, Caporale has the air of an author: he puts his personality at the service of a bar. Just like at Artesian, Sips is a bar that takes its drinks seriously (laboratory equipment – tick, new techniques – tick) without taking itself too seriously. This dynamic, more than any other dynamic, plays well with guests – and voters.
In many ways, we can see that the best bars have strong, charismatic leadership. GN Chan and Faye Chen are a striking presence at Double Chicken Please, there’s Eric van Beek at Handshake Speakeasy, Giacomo Giannotti and Margarita Sader at Paradiso, Monica Berg and Alex Kratena at Tayer + Elementary, Ago Perrone, Maura Milia and Giorgio Bargiani in Connaught. Bar – the list goes on. Almost every bar in the 50 can be visually associated with one (or more) leaders.
Figureheads who actually work in bars have additional resonance. So, as a corollary, if you lose your spiritual leader – as Two Schmucks did last year with the departure of Moe Aljaff – in terms of perception, you lose the soul of the bar and more often than not, your place on the list. Bars are made up of more than four walls and a ceiling.
Few return to the awards circle after such a significant loss, although careful recruitment can change the situation. Artesian has indeed made a comeback after being left off the 2016 roster (you know who had just left), with Anna Sebastian and Remy Savage joining the bar. Savage had already restored confidence, when Little Red Door lost Jill Lafond (and her roster spot).
Timothée Prangé’s bar, now 10th on the list, has become one of the few to have a host of creative leaders. The consistency of ownership and positioning (LRD is now in its third year of farm-to-glass activity) and the internal recruitment of its creative leaders (Alex Francis being the latest) have proven to be a real success. recipe for success.
Until last year, the world bar summit had only been conquered by bars in London and New York. Then the Barcelona Paradiso planted its flag and we wondered what that meant more broadly. Now that Sips has maintained the Catalan colors, it confirms that this was not an isolated event. The duopoly held by London and New York is indeed dead, but has it been replaced by a triopoly?
With just two bars in the entire list, it’s difficult to place Barcelona among cocktail metropolises with the strength and depth of London and New York, but its performance in these lists confirms a broader trend. Barcelona is one of many cities that has the conditions to create world-class bars – primarily,
it responds to demand and can attract (or develop) the talent needed to meet it.
This could also be said of cities like Mexico, Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong. As we discussed in this magazine last year, the industry has now moved from a bipolar to a multipolar orientation. And beyond that, there’s a more general upscaling, with smaller cities, some second and third tier, now home to energetic bar scenes. The pandemic has played its role here, with talent moving away from big cities to pollinate new lands.
And this broadening talent base is confirmed by the latest list of the 50 best bars in the world. Seven cities are now represented in the top 10 – Barcelona, New York, Mexico City, London, Paris, Cartagena, Oslo – and 15 cities contributed bars to the top 20.
Despite this trend, London, with five bars in the 2023 list, remains the cocktail capital of the world. In second place is Mexico City this year with four bars, while four cities are home to three bars: Athens, Buenos Aires, New York and Singapore.
The target is expanded to countries and the UK has the most – with Edinburgh’s Panda & Sons adding to London’s five placements, making it six. The United States arrives with five countries (Miami and New Orleans completing New York’s contribution). The United States has a strong set, but these numbers are significantly lower than 5-10 years ago. To think that in 2014 the United States recorded no less than 16 of the 50 best bars in the world. The world has caught up.
Italy also contributes to the list with five bars, which you might easily miss because its bars are so well spread out – venues in Naples, Milan, Rome and Florence made the list in a banner year for this country. southern Europe. Four of the 50 are from Mexico, while Spain, Greece and Argentina are home to three.
And so on for the continents. Europe has 22 – roughly on par with the world’s top 50 bars over the years – while Asia comes in second with 12, leading – and not for the first time – North America, whose fortune is linked to that of the United States. Meanwhile, South America is regaining ground, led by Buenos Aires, and has five bars on the list. Oceania/Australasia has only two, while Africa, once again, has not signed up – although it feels like its time is near.