The best cocktail bars in the region have just been announced via *Asia’s 50 Best Bars. The Old Man in Hong Kong took the top spot, displacing Manhattan in Singapore, which had held it for the last two years.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorites in the region, each a unique concept that can go from an easy night cap to a night on the town.
The Old Man. Hong Kong’s first Ernest Hemingway-inspired bar has just been named the best bar in Asia for 2019! The Old Man serves cocktails named after novels like The Sun Also Rises (a negroni with an Asia twist) and The Snows of Kilimanjaro (with marshmallow gin!) They’ve also opened a sister bar, The Sea (as in, The Old Man and The Sea), plus a Singapore iteration also opened this week! 37 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2703 1899; theoldmanhk.com
The Wise King. The Wise King was inspired by 13th century Spain, particularly King Alfonso X aka “the wise king,” who declared all drinks should be accompanied with snacks. Cocktails at this old-world basement salon have an indulgent Spanish twist. Case in point: the #JamónOldFashioned made with Jamón Iberico bourbon, garnished with the Spanish ham. At the help is co-owner and mixologist Joe Villanueva, who is Filipino. 25 Staunton Street, Soho Central, Hong Kong; +852 2326-5822; thewiseking.com
Back Room. A 1920s speakeasy with an undisclosed location, Back Room is the first new entry from the Philippines this year. The dark wood-black marble bar with plush seating is home to 18 signature cocktails and over 120 brands of gin, including their very own, Bee’s Knees. Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila; +632 865 3844; backroomph.com
Oto. Another new entry from the Philippines, Oto, which means ‘sounds’ in Japanese, celebrates music. The bar is a listening room with quality speakers, turntables and vinyl records. Cocktails are by partner David Ong (of The Curator) and are divided into classics, tributes and signatures. Update as of July 10: Oto will be closing temporarily to prepare for their move to a new location in Poblacion. Their last day is July 14 at their current address: 5880 Enriquez Street, Poblacion, Makati; +632 728 2433; fb.com/ototo.ph
The Curator. Once again awarded The Best Bar in the Philippines, The Curator views cocktails as an art, science and craft. All drinks are carefully created with proper technique, creating some of the most interesting flavor profiles in the country. We’re currently eyeing their Ube Milk Punch that looks like puto bumbong in a mug. During the day, it is a café. 134 Legaspi Street, Makati; +639163554129; thecuratorcoffeeandcocktails.com
Atlas. Atlas is undoubtedly one of the most stunning bars in the world. Housed in a 7,400 sq. ft. Art Deco space, it has almost 1,000 kinds of gin and 250 kinds of champagne! Yes, it’s a splurge but trust us, it’s worth it. Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road, Singapore; +65 6396 4466; atlasbar.sg
Draft Land. Try a drink before ordering? Absolutely! At Draftland, mixologist Angus Zou envisioned cocktails on tap, so guests can sip and sample before committing to a favorite. Drinks are pre-batched, garnish-free, sustainable and affordable. 1 F , No.2, Ln. 248, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Da’an District, Taipei;+886 2 2731 8975; draftland.tw
Teens of Thailand. The name always gets a reaction but Teens of Thailand is actually a gin bar—an unpretentious antithesis to the speakeasy. There are only 16 seats though, so best to come early. 6 Pom Prap, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok; +66 96-846-0506; fb.com/teensofthailand
Bar Trigona. The recipient of the Sustainable Bar Award, the stylish Bar Trigona sources ingredients from small farms in Malaysia and utilizes all parts—from husks to stalks and shells. There are likewise no single-use plastic straws, sachets, coasters and cocktail napkins here. Located in the Four Seasons, it’s the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. 145 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur; +603 2382 8670; fourseasons.com/kualalumpur/dining/lounges/bar-trigona/
*The annual Asia’s 50 Best Bars Awards is selected by academy members from 14 countries, comprised of travelled members of the bar industry, drinks media and mixology experts from across Asia. It is the first regional event of The World’s 50 Best Bars brand. worlds50bestbars.com/asia/list/
Cheryl Tiu is a taste-hunter for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Bars, and founder of Cross Cultures, an events platform that promotes cultural exchange through food. Visit cheryltiu.com or follow her on Instagram @chertiu.