Hundreds of the UK’s top bartenders, spirits and cocktail experts have voted for the bars they believe to be exceptional and deserving of a space among the 50 greatest cocktail bars in the UK.
Each voter selected one bar within their region and then three others from anywhere in the UK that they believe to be the best the UK has to offer.
Votes were gathered from as far north as Aberdeen, to Wales and then all the way down to the southern coast of England.
The list paints a colourful picture of the cocktail bars we have available in the UK, showing London is not the only place you can find skilled bartenders and exceptional drinks.
Top 50 Cocktail Bars editor Nicholas Robinson said: “We have the list and we’re ready to reveal it in Manchester on 4 June – and it’s a cracker!
‘Bars right across the UK’
“We have representation from Scotland, Wales, the north east of England and other bars from right across the UK,” he added. “London is the cocktail capital of the world, there’s no argument about that, but we have amazing cocktail bars in other cities too that deserve to be ranked among the best.
“There is high demand across the UK for great cocktails served in amazing and interesting environments and Top 50 Cocktail Bars will feed that thirst, showing consumers the best places they can go for a decent drink.”
The event, which is invite only, will be held in Manchester on 4 June and will be hosted by Top 50 Cocktail Bars’ partners Pernod Ricard UK, Absolut vodka, Beefeater gin, Monkey 47 gin, Plymouth Gin and Schweppes 1783 tonic water.
The Morning Advertiser (MA) editor Ed Bedington said: “It is really exciting to be able to show UK consumers that great cocktail bars are not just found in London, but in every city and town across the country.
“We’ve seen fantastic success from Top 50 Cocktail Bars’ sister brand Top 50 Gastropubs, which is in its ninth year and has helped consumers find the very best places to eat near them.
“Top 50 Cocktail Bars will be THE list to consult if you’re looking for the best places to drink cocktails in the UK.”
Two special awards will also be announced on the night, including Bartender of the Year and One to Watch.
Top 50 Cocktail Bars is powered by MA and is brought to you by the team behind Top 50 Gastropubs.
Revealed on 4 June
The list will be revealed online after the exclusive launch party at the Loft on 4 June.
Mark Harris, on-trade channel director for Pernod Ricard UK, said: We’re delighted to be supporting The Morning Advertiser find the UK’s 50 Best Cocktail Bars and are thrilled to be hosting the event at our brand new event space in Manchester, The Loft.
"It’s the perfect venue as not only does it give us a northern hub to activate some of our best-loved brand experiences, such as Chivas The Blend, but we will regularly open it up to bartenders from across the country to give them opportunity to be inspired by our team of brand ambassadors, The BEAT, and fellow drinks industry colleagues.
"The UK is leading the way as a global cocktail destination and we are excited to see what bars have made the final list."
Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, added: "The cocktail drinker is keen to explore, with nearly half being the first to try new products in their peer group.
"A key driver to the growth of the cocktail scene is that it is fast-changing and driven by new trends and flavours, catering to a consumer that’s constantly seeking new flavour experiences. We expect increasingly eclectic mixes to continue to find their way onto the market and drive this growth."
She added: "We have also seen a shift with people looking for more simplicity and a greater understanding of the drink choices they’re making. This is particularly true among young people who are taking a real interest in the quality and taste of the ingredients used."
Meanwhile, spirits sales in the UK are booming, with consumers turning to premium and super-premium brands. In MA’s latest Drinks List: Top Brands to Stock in 2018, 10 spirits brands accounted for almost half of all spirits sales in the UK on-trade.
Sales of spirits, according to the report, are in growth and hold almost a quarter of all on-trade alcohol sales.
Of course, gin has also grown significantly, with sales last year rising by 18% in value. Some 43% of the growth came from premium brands, emphasising the UK consumers’ desire for high-end alcohol.
The rise of the cocktail bar is being driven by the number of consumers out there looking for experiences, with fewer punters going out to drink, who are drinking less, but better, when they are out.
According to CGA’s Brand Track to February 2017, 40% of punters said they would pay more for a better-looking drink, showing a desire for something special, such as a well-made cocktail.