The nominees are voted for by a panel of nearly 230 experts in the drinks industry from around the globe known as “The Academy”. This year, London did fantastically well with Artesian at the Langham Hotel taking top spot for the second year running and 3 of the top 5 being based in this fantastic city of ours.
My personal favourite, tiny Hoxton Square basement bar, Happiness Forgets, rose 6 places this year to come in 6th. Other notable London bars featured include the Connaught Bar, 69 Colebrook Row and Callooh Callay.
However, the name that was on everyone’s lips in the lead up to this event was The Dead Rabbit in New York. Hotly tipped to come in first this year, two Irish lads, founder Sean Muldoon and bar manager Jack McGarry went over to the Big Apple with one goal: to open the best bar in the world while putting Irish whiskey on the map. Having only been open a few months when the voting took place for 50 Best Bars, it’s a massive achievement to have come in 5th.
We caught up with the boys the next day at the Jameson Trends Lab. Here’s what they had to say…
Firstly, congratulations on last night. How does it feel to come in the top 5 as a new entry?
I mean, it feels great, we (if we’re being honest), we’re used to winning everything and we were a bit disappointed as we’d liked to have been in the top 3 for sure. But when we looked at it, we thought, ‘Hey, we’re a brand new bar, we opened in February and the judging was in May’, so we’re very very delighted. To come first bar in America was very good, and to come so high up for a first time? I mean, I was talking to Alastair [Burgess, of Happiness Forgets] last night, and I didn’t know he’d been open for three years. To think that it takes people that long to get up to that level and we’re coming in straight at this point? So taking it all out of the equation, I’m very happy with how we did. Very happy.
Where did you celebrate last night?
In an Indian restaurant.
We realised we’d been drinking all day with no food, so we met a friend, Craig Harper from Scotland, and we all went out together to the nearest Indian. It wasn’t like we hunted one out, we just went to the nearest place and just ate and drank.
Today you talked about the bigger picture, your goal to really put Irish whiskey on the map and for Jack, ultimately, to become the face of it. How are you planning on doing that?
A lot of bartenders, and a lot of consumers associate Irish whiskey as a shot format and it’s basically educating them, and illustrating that it can be used in so many different arenas in a cocktail sense. We feel like we can add a lot of authenticity and legitimacy to it. As we did with the bar – making it sexy, it’s literally doing the same thing with Irish whiskey. Making it sexy.
What are your plans for the rest of your trip in London while you’re here?
Well, we haven’t been here properly in a while. I was here four months go and I visited a few bars and met up with a few people, but tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday night, we’re going to visit all the people we haven’t visited in a long time. We’re going to pay our respects to the fellow winners of the competition. We’re going to do the Artesian, we’re going to go to the Connaught, we’re going to go to Happiness Forgets.
For you guys, where is your favourite bar in the world (other than your own because that’s cheating) for emotional or a professional reasons?
I’d say the best bar in the world for us, would definitely be in Belfast, would be the Duke of York or Kelly’s respectively. We like drinking in bars or pubs that are comfortable and you can sit and have a good night.
What would you actually consider to be the best bar in London?
I mean, it depends what we’re after. If we’re after the bar that’s doing it right, and making itself sexy the way we’re talking about, and it’s important to get that message across. If you’re talking about that element of things, you’re definitely talking about Artesian. They are the people, Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale, they are doing it right. They are travelling the world, they are bringing their bar to all these other places and people are getting to experience what they’re doing.
But if you’re talking about bartender’s bar, deep down and dirty, where bartenders like to hang out and go for a good cocktail, it’s Happiness Forgets, to be honest. Happiness Forgets.
I used to think somewhere like Montgomery Place. That used to be an amazing bar. I mean for me, Montgomery Place, in the last 10, 12 years in London is the best cocktail bar that has opened. I’m not talking about hotel cocktail bars, I’m talking about cocktail bars. Montgomery Place to me, it was amazing. In its day, it was just incredible. And it was great to see a bar like that. I don’t know what it’s like now, I haven’t been in a long time, but now if you’re talking about a great night, it’s Happiness Forgets.
Any plans for another bar or an expansion?
We have been offered, but we’re in no hurry. We want to concentrate on making this one 100% right and getting it where it needs to go. Then we want to decide and think what we’re going to do with Irish whiskey, what we do with punches. Developing our brand.
Last one, both of you separately, what was the last thing that made you stop and stare?
Jack: Moscow was the last thing that made me stop and stare. The traffic in Moscow. It is ridiculous. RIDICULOUS. I think that’s the last thing that stopped me in my tracks.
Sean: Probably, we were in Stockholm recently, just after he was in Moscow, and the thing that really made me sit up and pay attention was the quality of the food that we had in all the bars. They could have brought us to the 10 best spots in Stockholm for all I know, but it didn’t feel that way. It felt like it was very organic. The quality of the food in every single place we went to was through the roof. It was exceptional. I mean exceptional. Every single place.
Thank you to the Jameson Trends Lab and to Sean and Jack for taking the time to talk to us.
To see the complete list of the 50 Best Bars 2013, click HERE.
The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog
30 Water Street