As part of London Cocktail Week, 8 Northumberland staged the World’s 50 Best Bars Awards 2012. Hosted by Lucy Britner, Editor of Drinks International and ‘King Cocktail’ Dale DeGroff, around 400 drinks industry professionals gathered to witness the unveiling of regional winners and the number one venue itself.

Described by DeGroff as ‘an extraordinary group of very talented people’ some 150 contributors from 38 countries form the Academy of judges including bartenders, brand ambassadors and bar owners, ensuring the biggest industry poll of it’s kind ever undertaken.

A selection of internationally recognised mixologists served a continuous supply of cocktails using Nikka Whisky, Botran and Polignac with reliable support from Asahi. Following much crunching of ice and flipping of cherries, the countdown began and the final list was dominated by the UK and the US with well over 50% of the bars placed between them. Somewhat surprisingly four of the top five were London venues begging the question are these really the best bars in the world or the victors of voting influenced by brand buying and other factors such as where the event is staged? The judging process would argue not and with prompting from a mouth smacking Polignac Ginger Manhattan, they were given the benefit of the doubt.

The remainder represented a reasonable worldwide spread with new entries from Sydney, Munich, Berlin, Buenos Aires and Moscow amongst others.

Winner of The World’s Best Bar and therefore Best UK Bar was Artesian; The Langham Hotel’s celebrated setting, renowned for it’s innovative cocktail menu and classic hotel feel. Having already won ‘Tales of the Cocktail – World’s Best Hotel Bar’ and being home to the World’s Best International Bartender, Alex Kratena, this latest honour didn’t come as any great surprise to those gathered.

Best North American bar and demoted from last year’s number one spot was New York’s PDT, a bar with probably the most novel and inspired of entrances, speakeasy throwback and highly reputable cocktail menu.

Highest new entry at No.7 and scooping Best Bar in Asia and Pacific was Sydney’s Baxter Inn somewhat surprisingly beating fellow countrymen and previously lauded venue Black Pearl in Melbourne. Opened by two bartenders who also own the highly successful Shady Pines Salon – one to watch next year apparently – Baxter Inn is another bar behind a nondescript entrance that gives way to an unexpected delight where country and jazz regularly compliment the American style saloon.

The rest of Europe finally got a mention at 16 as Mutis claimed the Highest Climber crown as well as Best Bar in Europe. Hidden away in the back streets of Barcelona, this 1920s Parisian cabaret styled Member’s Club is basically a flat in an apartment complex, knocked through and sound-proofed. Other residents remain upstairs, giving that speakeasy and ‘illicit’ feel.

The final honours went to La Capilla in Mexico, taking Best Bar in Latin America and the Caribbean and in 50th, championed as the Best Bar in Africa and the Middle East, was Asoka in Cape Town. The former has been ironically described as a drinker’s Mecca and not surprisingly boasts an extensive range of tequilas. The second has an olive tree growing in the middle of the bar and a penchant for denim upholstery.

The event itself reinforced the diversity and innovative nature of the cocktail and bar industry and the aim is to establish ‘The World’s 50 Best Bars’ as an integral part of London Cocktail Week. This one would assume is inevitable given the strength of the London representatives featured, however having seen the bars on the ‘Ones To Watch’ list next year maybe – just maybe, London will get a run for it’s money.

Do you agree or disagree? What are some of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.