Close Menu
Top 10

World’s Best Bars 2013: Asia

Asia’s growing sense of adventure has resulted in an influx of high-end bars drawing their inspiration from all over the world. Paul Wootton reports

The Terrace Bar at The Speakeasy in Bangkok offers an undoubtedly spectacular view alongside its drinks list

Asia’s food and drink lovers are increasingly experimental, partly because more of them are travelling further afield and want to sample the same taste experiences and products when they get back home. Cue the growing influence of Spain’s and Latin America’s dining and drinking cultures on Asia.

Tequila is all the rage in top bars in Singapore, while the impact of recent top-end eateries such as La Catalunya in Singapore, Boqueria in Hong Kong and Colagreco in Shanghai is having a trickle-down effect on the fast casual dining and bar sectors – expect a spate of quality tapas bars across the region in future.

That said, many of Asia’s night owls are still seduced by the no-expense-spared designs of major hotel bars, which typically offer spectacular views along with their equally stunning prices.

Our list of the bars to watch in Asia is revealed on the following pages…

For the full list of all the predictions in our World’s Best Bars 2013 feature, click here.

ASIA BAR TO WATCH 2013: Quinary, Hong Kong

Quinary, as opposed to binary, is a numeral system with five as the base, and this new Hong Kong bar is so-called because it sets out to engage all five senses. It’s a watering-hole as imagined by Heston Blumenthal or Ferran Adria, where science plays a part in pushing the boundaries of cocktail creation, and drinks provoke discussion, amusement and surprise.

Quinary is owned by Charlene Dawes, who’s intent on doing for cocktails what she did for wine at Tastings and whisky at Angel’s Share. You wouldn’t bet against her succeeding because she’s partnered at Quinary by renowned bartender Antonio Lai. Lai is the Willy Wonka of the Hong Kong drinks scene, a master of experimental beverages who’s written a book on multi-sensory mixology. For Lai, a simple cocktail shaker won’t do. Look towards the end of his bar and there you’ll see laboratory equipment: a rotary evaporator redistills wasabi vodka for his take on the Bloody Mary; while a centrifuge clarifies grapefruit juice for the Crystal 24, a twist on the Grapefruit Collins.

The cocktail offering deconstructs old classics and unusual ingredients are judiciously used in seductive reinterpretations: liquorice root and Chinese black sugar, for example, add layers of depth to a Whisky Sour creation.

As you’d expect from Dawes, Quinary’s design is sophisticated, grown-up and classy, emphasising that this is no circus freakshow, but a serious attempt to raise the art of cocktail-making to new levels. Prepare to be dazzled.

The Speakeasy, Hotel Muse, Bangkok, Thailand

It’s all about the vistas and the vibe at The Speakeasy, which encompasses the entire 24th and 25th floors of Bangkok’s Hotel Muse. You could spend days exploring this place – there’s the Long Bar, Terrace Bar, The Blind Pig cigar lounge, a rooftop bar, The Lawn, as well as a boardroom and three private rooms named “It’s Personal”, “Private Affair“ and “Never Tell“. Sheer indulgence.

Unico, Shanghai, China

Argentine-born Mauro Colagreco is one of the world’s top chefs and Unico is the new bar attached to his eponymous Shanghai restaurant. Described as the largest tapas lounge in Asia, Unico pays homage to Latin America with its masculine design, cocktails such as the Maracuya and Cayenne Pisco Sour, and in Colagreco’s fabulous tapas.

Fuglen, Tokyo, Japan

Another import from across the globe, Oslo’s achingly hip Fuglen is part-café, part-cocktail bar and part-vintage design store. Tokyo got its own Fuglen in May this year, offering the same conceit: great coffee, quirky cocktails designed by Norwegian bartender Halvor Digernes and 1950s furniture for sale.

Boujis, Hong Kong

The London original succeeded in attracting Princes William and Harry, and you can be sure that the Boujis formula will work its magic on Hong Kong’s own well-heeled elite. With London bartending veterans Sam Jeveons and Will de la Praudière managing the venue, the drinks should be good too.

Coq & Balls, Singapore

Cheeky by name and cheeky by nature, Coq & Balls is Singapore’s newest gastropub, offering flaming cocktails, Belgian beers and Japanese-Western fusion food in an unpretentious setting. The design blends exposed brickwork with framed pictures of ostriches. It’s fun, friendly and the owners are obsessed with Chuck Norris. Enough said.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No