The Barcelona Bar That Was Just Named The World's Best

What does it mean to be the world's best bar? Does it mean having the best drinks, the strongest or most imaginative? Maybe the best atmosphere — welcoming or exclusive? There can be so many answers, it's hard to imagine that bars can be judged across the board on the same criteria. While The World's 50 Best Bars Academy surely takes matters like cocktail quality and ambience into account, it may not be in the way you would think. The Academy uses no categorical system to come to its annual decisions; rather, the group of 650 drinks writers, bartenders, bar owners, and industry consultants and experts are asked to list the seven the best bar experiences they've had in the last 18 months.

There are few limitations on where members of the academy may cast their vote, besides the requirement that they have visited them in the past year and a half and cannot have a "financial interest" in the businesses. This freedom means academy members can "vote far and wide," which explains why this year's list includes locales in Bangkok, Athens, Chicago, and beyond. Plus, considering the wide parameters, you can have faith that even while there may be no formal criteria on which these bars are being judged, these 50 names are probably something special if they kept coming up out of 4,550 possible nominees.

Paradiso was recognized for its thematic cocktails

According to The World's 50 Best Bars voting academy, the absolute best bar in the world can be now be found in Barcelona, Spain. The winner, Paradiso, was also named the best bar in Europe by the same organization. Per the award announcement, this marks the first year the coveted top spot has gone to a bar outside of New York or London. In fact, only eight of the bars on the 50 Best list are in the U.S., and most are in NYC, so if you're looking for the best bar in every state, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Barcelona's prize-winning Paradiso is entered through a refrigerator at the back of a deli. Inside is a slender, curvaceous, wood-framed space that Condé Nast Traveler describes as "a speakeasy within the speakeasy." Despite the beautiful locale, the artistically crafted cocktails are the real reason patrons flock to Paradiso. Co-owner and "creative-in-chief" Giacomo Giannotti keeps things fresh with a high-concept cocktail menu that changes each year. The 2022 theme presents tongue-in-cheek ruminations on the Evolution of Humankind. To stoke your imagination: One of 15 cocktails on the menu, the Voyager-inspired "Evolution" is a reimagined Cosmopolitan served in a spacecraft-like contraption (via Instagram).