Is it the strangest rendition of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards we’ve ever seen? Maybe. But did Bangkok bars still make us loud and proud with their wins? Definitely.

Whilst bars remain shut in the Big Mango, and alcohol consumption is set to a limit, plenty was celebrated this evening at the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 awards. The online ceremony took place in Singapore, with bar industry heavyweights and bar scene lovers tuning in virtually from around the region. Hong Kong and mainland China were the night’s big winners, with a total of 13 bars to boast, followed by Singapore with 12. Bangkok claims five bars within the Top 50.

[Hero Image Credit: Vesper; Featured Image Credit: The Bamboo Bar]

Jay Khan of Coa (Image Credit: Coa)

And the best bar in Asia is…

The 2021 list for Asia’s 50 Best Bars features bars from 10 countries, with eight new entries. The most celebrated bar of the night was Hong Kong’s Coa, climbing from No. 3 last year to claim the prestigious top spot. It is followed by Singapore’s Jigger & Pony and Tokyo’s The SG Club, alongside Taipei’s Indulge Experimental Bistro (No. 4) and Shanghai’s Sober Company (No. 5) to complete the Top 5.

Sebastian de la Cruz and Philip Stefanescu (Image Credit: Tropic City)

The Bangkok bars that made it

We see the return of Teens of Thailand (No. 48) on the list after a short hiatus, as well as more familiar names like Vesper (No. 46), Backstage Cocktail Bar (No. 35), and Tropic City (No. 22, rising from No. 24 last year). The best bar in all of Thailand is once again the acclaimed Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental (No. 11), further securing its reputation as one of the most iconic bars in the whole region.

Jamie Rhind at the Bamboo Bar (Image Credit: The Bamboo Bar)

Within the 51-100 ranking, Thailand is represented by another six bars, including four new entries: Asia Today (No. 52), Thaipioka (No. 53), Rabbit Hole (No. 67), 008 Bar (No. 81), Sugar Ray You’ve Just Been Poisoned (No. 85), and Smalls (No. 93). This brings the total of Thai bars on the Asia’s 50 Best list to 11. It’s a sweet reward for the rising bar industry we are proud to boast, but also a sobering reminder of the effects of the pandemic.

As winners celebrated their spots through social media, there is a bittersweet tone to the posts. Most — if not all — of our bars on this list are struggling with the enforced closures and alcohol sales bans. Despite being shut down for most of the year, we cannot help but applaud them for being real troopers, and hope that things will get better.

Outside Teens of Thailand (Image Credit: Teens of Thailand)

Special awards

Beyond the ranking for Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021, a number of special awards also went out to several recipients tonight.

The Campari One to Watch Award went to Epic Shanghai, the Ketel One Vodka Sustainability Award went to Penicillin Hong Kong, and the Heering Legend of the List this year is Quinary Hong Kong. The Nikka Highest Climbers were tied with Sidecar New Delhi and Caprice Hong Kong, with the Disaronno Highest New Entry awarded to No Sleep Club Singapore. The Best New Opening, presented by London Essence, went to The Diplomat Hong Kong, and the Roku Industry Icon award was won by Japanese bar owner Shingo Gokan.

Image Credit: Penicillin via Asia’s 50 Best Bars

The full list

A warm congratulations to all winning bars, and a heartfelt hug to those who have to remain closed at this time, you can find the full list of winners below. We can’t wait until we can visit you again:

1. Coa, Hong Kong
2. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
3. The SG Club, Tokyo
4. Indulge Experimental Bistro, Taiwan
5. Sober Company, Shanghai
6. Manhattan, Singapore
7. Atlas Bar, Singapore
8. No Sleep Club, Singapore
9. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
10. Caprice Bar, Hong Kong
11. Bamboo Bar, Bangkok
12. Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur
13. Charles H, Seoul
14. Native, Singapore
15. Hope and Sesame, Hong Kong
16. Sidecar, New Delhi
17. Bar Mood, Taiwan
18. Bee’s Knees, Kyoto
19. Room by Le Kief, Taiwan
20. The Diplomat, Hong Kong
21. 28 Hong Kong Street, Singapore
22. Tropic City, Bangkok
23. Tell Camellia, Hong Kong
24. Aha Saloon, Taiwan
25. Quinary, Hong Kong
26. The Pontiac, Hong Kong
27. High Five, Tokyo
28. The Wise King, Hong Kong
29. Barbary Coast, Singapore
30. Penicillin Bar, Hong Kong
31. Union Trading Company, Shanghai
32. Speak Low, Shanghai
33. Union Brasserie, Bakery & Bar, Jakarta
34. Bar Cham, Seoul
35. Backstage Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
36. Tippling Club, Singapore
37. Junglebird, Kuala Lumpur
38. The Curator, The Philippines
39. D.Bespoke, Singapore
40. Darkside, Hong Kong
41. Alice, Seoul
42. The Old Man, Singapore
43. Bar Trench, Tokyo
44. Le Chamber, Seoul
45. MO Bar, Singapore
46. Vesper, Bangkok
47. Three X Co, Kuala Lumpur
48. Teens of Thailand, Bangkok
49. Sago House, Singapore
50. Star Bar, Tokyo

Lisa Gries
Creative Content Director, Bangkok
Lisa loves to travel, and is always on the lookout for the world’s best nap spots. She’s a serious Asian art history nerd, and has a knack for languages and coffee table books. She hopes to publish her own novels one day, one of which will likely be called ‘All The Great Conversations I Had In A Bangkok Speakeasy.’ It’s a work in progress.