The eighth edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony, held at the Rosewood Hong Kong on Tuesday, July, 18, celebrated the finest cocktail establishments in the continent. This year’s list featured entries from 17 cities and 12 countries, with Singapore leading with 10 entries, followed by Hong Kong with 10, and Japan with 7. India proudly secured four spots on the prestigious list, with Sidecar, in Delhi, The Bombay Canteen and The Living Room in Mumbai, and Copitas, in Bengaluru, garnering recognition.
Sidecar, Delhi (Rank 18):
South Delhi’s popular Sidecar, ranked 18, has earned a spot on the list for the fourth consecutive year. Owner Yangdup Lama, currently in Hong Kong preparing a new menu presentation, expressed his gratitude, stating, “It is an honour and a reflection of our team’s hard work. This recognition inspires us to remain focused on every aspect of our craft, from presentation to service, food, and aesthetics. Our patrons love us not just for our drinks but for the overall experience we offer.”
Lama highlighted the importance of constant training, learning, and innovation in the industry and emphasised the use of local ingredients and familiar flavours to create a wholesome bar experience. He also shared that the menu presented in Hong Kong will soon be introduced at Sidecar in Delhi. The mixologist teased, “Lots of new things are coming up soon at Sidecar.”
The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai (Rank 35):
The Bombay Canteen, a bar that embraces local flavours, jumped from #76 last year to #35 on the list. Under the guidance of Prantik Haldar, Head of Beverage Innovations, the bar offers a selection of reimagined classics with Indian roots. Each drink pays homage to Mumbai’s vibrant culture, with design elements such as a pop-up book showcasing the city’s Art Deco architecture.
Yash Bhanage, founder and COO of Hunger Inc. Hospitality, the parent company of The Bombay Canteen, expressed his delight, stating, “This is not only a recognition of our effort in the last year to curate a world-class bar menu but a tremendous validation of the creativity and innovation to push the bar program at The Bombay Canteen since inception in 2015.”
Copitas, Bengaluru (Rank 38):
Located on the 21st floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, Copitas has earned its place as Bengaluru’s cocktail mecca. Led by Sarath Nair, the bar stands out with its uncomplicated, clean, and delicious cocktails. Judges were impressed by their green menu, utilizing every part of a plant, such as seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits, to craft unique cocktails.
Local ingredients including peanut brittle (chikki), vettivera (khus), nannari, and betel leaves contribute to their stand-out drinks. General Manager Reuben Kataria expressed excitement, stating, “Being recognised feels more special also because we are the only hotel bar in the country featured on the list. And we have been on the list twice and improved our rankings this year.”
The Living Room, Mumbai (Rank 48):
Masque’s The Living Room climbed from #73 to #48 on the list. Nestled on the mezzanine level of the sophisticated space in a former cotton mill, this intimate cocktail bar, led by Ankush Gamre, showcases India’s flavours with a focus on innovation and sustainability.
The concise cocktail menu takes guests on a journey through India’s unique tastes, presented in contemporary styles using consciously sourced ingredients. From sea buckthorn to black garlic aged in-house, the drinks reflect Masque’s ethos and standards.
The presence of four Indian bars on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 list demonstrates the remarkable growth and creativity within the country’s cocktail scene. These bars have embraced their unique identity and flavours, impressing judges and solidifying their position as trailblazers in Asia’s cocktail scene.