As the dust settles on Singapore’s Capitol Theatre and over 450 drinks-industry bigwigs toast to an evening of exciting accolades (some old, others new) we’re thrilled to report that — in a stunning upset — The Old Man Hong Kong has just nabbed the top spot at the Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards for 2019. The Hemingway-inspired cocktail bar, which opened less than two years ago, debuted on the list at #5 in 2018 and, subsequently, #10 on World’s 50 Best Bars 2018. Though there were rumblings that it would eventually dethrone Singaporean heavyweight Manhattan (which has won top place two years running), many insiders failed to predict how quickly that would come to pass.

Nonetheless, Singapore’s prodigal son of hotel bars still won big in 2019, coming in at #2 and picking up the “Legend of the List” title (awarded for most consistent performance over time) for good measure. The top five spots are rounded out by Indulge Experimental Bistro Taipei at #3, Native (#4) and Atlas at (#5). Native climbed a notable three spots from its 2018 ranking, in the process dislodging Speak Low from the top 5 altogether (the Shingo Gokan institution clocked in at a respectable #7 this year). 

Asia's 50 Best Bars 2019
The winners at tonight’s awards ceremony in Singapore.

Meanwhile, High Five — Hidetsugu Ueno’s sleek, technique-centred Tokyo bar — held steady at #6 while a bunch of faces familiar to boozehounds shuffled around for the remaining top 10 places. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s Bamboo Bar is now sitting pretty at #8, while Quinary reenters the club at #10. Jigger & Pony meanwhile catapulted forward 34 spots this year to win the coveted “Highest Climber” title, in addition to a #9 ranking.

Asia's 50 Best Bars 2019
Jay Kahn, owner & head bartender of COA (#12 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019)

As in 2018, Hong Kong has some serious face time on this year’s list, with a total of seven of the city’s bars represented. Of particular note are COA — Jay Kahn’s agave-centric lair on Shin Hing Street — and The Wise King — an opulent bar with luxurious cocktails hidden away down a quiet lane in SoH0; they debuted on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 list at #12 and #18, respectively. Thanks to the performance of bars in Hong Kong, China and Singapore remain the two regions tied for most number of bars overall (12 a piece). Venues from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines account for other entries on the list.

The Wise King Hong Kong
Intimate and opulent, The Wise King debuted at #18 on this year’s list.

First introduced in 2016 as an extension of The World’s 50 Best Bars list, Asia’s 50 Best Bars is a comprehensive ranking of the most popular and exciting drinking dens throughout the region. Each venue is ranked according to total number of votes, made by members of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy. The Academy itself is composed of individuals from 14 Asian countries — reflecting the diversity of drinking experiences around the region. Members include personnel from hotel cocktail bars, speakeasies, tiki lounges and venues specialising in beer & wine. The list is collated and published by William Reed Business Media (owners of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants imprint).

You can view all of Asia’s 50 Best Bars below — venues located in Hong Kong are highlighted in boldface and asterisks denote new entrants to the list:

1. The Old Man (Hong Kong)

2. Manhattan (Singapore)

3. Indulge Experimental Bistro (Taipei)

4. Native (Singapore)

5. Atlas (Singapore)

6. High Five (Tokyo)

7. Speak Low (Shanghai)

8. The Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (Bangkok)

9. Jigger & Pony (Singapore)

10. Quinary (Hong Kong) 

11. Tippling Club (Singapore)

12. COA (Hong Kong)*

13. The SG Club (Tokyo)*

14. Charles H (Seoul)

15. Gibson (Singapore)

16. Sober Company (Shanghai)

17. Bar Benfiddich (Tokyo)

18. The Wise King (Hong Kong)*

19. Le Chamber (Seoul)

20. Backstage Cocktail Bar (Bangkok)

21. 28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)

22. Operation Dagger (Singapore)

23. Bar Trench (Tokyo)

24. Aha Saloon (Taipei)

25. D.Bespoke (Singapore)

26. Vesper (Bangkok)

27. Coley (Kuala Lumpur)

28. Bar Orchard Ginza (Tokyo)

29. Alice Cheongdam (Seoul)

30. Union Trading Company (Shanghai)

31. Tropic City (Bangkok)*

32. The Pontiac (Hong Kong) 

33. Lobster Bar & Grill (Hong Kong)

34. Rabbit Hole (Bangkok)*

35. Hope & Sesame (Guangzhou)*

36. Stockton (Hong Kong)

37. The Curator (Manila)

38. 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo (Hong Kong)

39. Union Brasserie, Bakery & Bar (Jakarta)

40. Bar Trigona (Kuala Lumpur)*

41. Employees Only (Singapore)

42. Smalls (Bangkok)*

43. Bar Mood (Taipei)*

44. Junglebird (Kuala Lumpur)

45. Draft Land (Taipei)

46. The Other Room (Singapore)

47. Oto (Manila)*

48. Teens of Thailand (Bangkok)

49. Mixology Salon (Tokyo)

50. The Back Room (Manila)*

Randy Lai
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.