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Top-Rated Bars To Visit In The ‘Cocktail Capital Of The World’

Over the past decade, cocktail bars across Asia have emerged as the undeniable stars of the mixology world. These bars shine just as brightly, if not more so, than their Western counterparts. What was once a select few celebrated establishments in thriving cities such as Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong has given way to a continent-wide renaissance in progressive bars. These venues are now renowned not only locally but have also garnered global recognition. Asia is also dedicated to sustainable innovation, and they have unique, culture-specific interpretations of mixology.

Coa: Elevating Hong Kong’s Love for Tequila

Ranked at an impressive 20th place on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, Coa in Hong Kong has been a game-changer in embracing international flavors with an Asian twist. Bartender Jay Khan introduced this Oaxacan-inspired bar in 2017, turning Hong Kong into a tequila-loving city. Against a magnificent mural portraying the agave goddess Mayahuel, Coa offers a diverse array of tequila and mezcal cocktails. Its extensive spirits list spans over 20 pages, boasting the most comprehensive collection of agave spirits in Hong Kong.

Zest: Where Sustainability Meets Mixology In Seoul

In the heart of Seoul, Zest is redefining the art of cocktails through a zero-waste philosophy. Established in 2020 by the talented quartet of Demie Kim, Sean Woo, Jisu Park, and Noah Kwon, this innovative cocktail bar adopts a holistic approach to its ingredients. One of their signature creations, the Jeju Garibaldi, encapsulates their commitment to sustainability by reimagining local hallabong tangerines. Citrus peels are repurposed and redistilled into house gin, while the spent pulp transforms into a delectable cordial. Zest’s eco-conscious practices extend to sourcing honey from local beekeepers and crafting their sodas and tonic water in-house. Notably, Zest made a grand entrance onto the World’s 50 Best Bars list. The bar managed to secure the 18th position and receive the coveted Highest New Entry Award sponsored by Disaronno.

Photo credit: Marek Piwnicki

Hybrid: The Art of Molecular Mixology in Ho Chi Minh City

In the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, Hybrid is a pioneer in the realm of molecular mixology within Vietnam. Owned by Liam Duong and bartender Phil Nguyen, this bar weaves simplicity with intricacy in each of its cocktails. Hybrid’s ever-evolving menu pays homage to Southeast Asian ingredients and, in particular, the rich culinary tapestry of Vietnam. Recent offerings have showcased various local elements, including mango varieties, bitter melon, calamari, anchovy, and a Vietnamese jungle pepper distillate.

Though Hybrid’s Saigon branch opened its doors in 2022, its earlier Nha Trang location marked its presence in 2019. The original establishment secured the 96th spot on Asia’s 100 Best list, illustrating its commitment to pushing the boundaries of mixology.

Hope & Sesame: Where Innovation Meets Tradition in Guangzhou

Situated behind a traditional Cantonese shop in the historic district of Guangzhou, Hope & Sesame is a cocktail bar that marries modern, scientific techniques with traditional Asian ingredients. Launched in 2016, this ambitious establishment presents a visually dynamic menu incorporating global flavors, utilizing ingredients like pandan leaves, coconuts, and Korean gochujang. To add to the allure, a hidden jazz bar offers live entertainment. In the latest rankings, Hope & Sesame claimed the 74th spot on the list of the world’s top 100 bars.

Stay Gold Flamingo: Crafting Timeless Elixirs with a Modern Twist in Singapore

Singapore’s enduring cocktail culture has birthed a new generation of bartending talents, and Jerrold Khoo is one of its shining stars. Having honed his craft at the iconic Jigger & Pony, Khoo, along with fellow bartender Bai JiaWei, embarked on a remarkable journey to establish Stay Gold Flamingo in 2021. This two-part venue encompasses Flamingo, known for daytime coffee and low-ABV cocktails, and Stay Gold, where classic cocktails coexist with their contemporary “alter egos.” The culmination of their efforts earned Stay Gold Flamingo the 32nd position on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars.

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