Bartender Magazine’s World’s Top 20 Bars: Classic Bars

Harry's New York Bar in Paris clained the number one spot

Following the success of previous years’ ‘World’s Top 20 Bars‘ surveys, Australian Bartender magazine, the leading title for the Australian bar trade, has taken a slightly different bent on this popular feature by focusing on ‘Classic Bars’ in 2010. Of course, what exactly defines a ‘classic’ is hard to put a finger on – it’s a bit of an abstract term. So, as we’ve done in previous years, we decided to leave the decisions up to our esteemed panel of judges which includes international industry greats such as Salvatore Calabrese, Hidetsugu Ueno, Tomas Estes and Gray Regan to name a few.

We’re particularly happy with the survey results which have seen Parisian bars come out on top with both Harry’s New York Bar and the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz making the top five. London bars fared well too with no fewer than four classic bars making the list topped by the American Bar at The Savoy in second place.

Kenya's Forty Thieves on the cover of June's Bartender magazineThe classic bars that made the cut weren’t just from the old world – bars from that made the Top 20 came from cities far and wide including Barcelona, Berlin, Havana, Munich, New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Wellington, Tequila and even Kenya’s Diani Beach.

To come up with our list we asked each of our judges to rank their Top 10 classic bars of all time. We didn’t mind too much if a couple of them had closed down or were even long defunct – rather we were after a list of timeless classics – bars that have influenced local or even global bar culture during their time.


The one condition we did put on our judges is that a ‘classic’ must have been operating in some capacity for more that 20 years. Furthermore, each one of these venues needed at least two nominations to make our list.

Bartender magazine’s Top 20 in ‘09 caused a buzz in the global bar biz and no doubt this year’s World’s Top 20 Bars: Classic Bars list will be hotly discussed as these grand venues prove that ‘classic’ doesn’t mean old hat. The publisher and founder of Australian Bartender magazine, David Spanton says: “Once again our judging panel is one of the most impressive gatherings of drinks industry heavyweights ever brought together to discuss bars and bar culture. This year’s Classic Bars Top 20 reflects their diverse experience and the rich heritage of the global bar industry.”

Read on for the full list of World’s Top 20 Bars: Classic for 2010 as well as a list of this year’s judges or get hold of June’s Australian Bartender magazine (with Kenya’s Forty Thieves on the cover) for the complete story.

The Top 20:

20. La Capilla, Tequila

19. The Star Lounge at The Ritz Carlton, New York

18. Dry Martini, Barcelona

17. Forty Thieves, Diani Beach, Kenya

16. 21 Club, New York

15. Marble Bar, Sydney

14. Matterhorn, Wellington

13. Schumann’s, Munich

12. The Connaught Bar (previously The American Bar), Connaught Hotel, London

11. PJ Clarkes, New York

10. Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar, San Francisco

9. Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney (currently closed)

8. Boadas, Barcelona

7: The Bar at the Dorchester, Dorchester Hotel, London

6: Floridita, Havana, Cuba

5: Rum Trader, Berlin

4: Hemingway Bar, Ritz Hotel, Paris

3: Dukes Hotel Bar, London

2: The American Bar at The Savoy, London

1: Harry’s New York Bar, Paris

The Panel

Salvatore Calabrese

‘The Maestro’ – One of the world’s leading bartenders

Gary Regan

‘The Cocktailian’ – Drinks writer extraordinaire

Philip Duff

Globe trotting drinks consultant and founder of Door 74 in Amsterdam

Jason Crawley

Mixxit Mixologist and all-round nice chap

Helmut Adams

Editor of Mixology magazine, Germany

Naren Young

Former editor Bartender magazine, itinerant barkeep & drinks writer

John Gakuru

Global brand ambassador for Sagatiba

David Spanton

Founder and director of Spanton Media Group

Xavier Padovani

Member of the ‘Travelling Mixologists’ (no. 007) and Global brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin

Tomas Estes

The culprit responsible for many hangovers, started and ended relationships and pregnancies from having brought Tequila to Europe

Max Warner

International Brand Ambassador Plymouth Gin

Ann Teunnerman

Founder Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans

Sven Almenning

Founder and director of Behind Bars

Grant Collins

Managing director of Bar Solutions

Ben Davidson

National spirits ambassador, Pernod Ricard, Australia

Sebastian Reaburn

Cocktail writer, reader, researcher, drinker, creator, bar-back, and cleaner at 1806, Melbourne

Simon Ford

Director – Trade Outreach and Brand Education, Pernod Ricard, US

Hidetsugu Ueno

Owner of High Five Bar, Tokyo

Theo Watt

Publisher, Thirsty Work Productions, DRiNK magazine China

  1. Hello Australian Bartender magazine:

    While you have placed ‘Forty Thieves’ in the Top 20, I have to disagree. As a frequent visitor to Diani Beach, I agree twigling your toes in icing sugar powder white sand is a plus but FT has yet to serve my favourite cocktail – Marguerita – made properly with Triple sec, (or as I prefer it – with cointreau), . But I do know somewhere that serves a great one and that is The Crown, Portpatrick in Scotland, as well as delicious ice-cold Guiness from across the water! So next time you travel to UK, don’t just stop in London ….. and go further North for a great little bar, ambiance, fresh scollops and of course a well-stocked bar….. Storm

  2. Great to see that my favourite bar -forty made the list. The location, ambience and the sand make it is special. You can get a beer anywhere but downing one while digging your toes into the soft flour white sand tops it.

  3. Forty Thieves definately deserves to be in the top 20… great bar, great atmosphere and a REAL beachbar! Love it! Really enjoyed the cricket match as well as the kite-surfing competition – Oh and who wants a Marguerita when you can have a Dawa – it really IS medicinal! Good job Bartender!

  4. Agree those are all great but this list should have in the top ranking also Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans which has been top 5 In USA each year.

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