DI Annual Bar Report: Bartenders Choice

This list is all about what the ’tenders love. Hamish Smith dissects their favourites

This list is where we find the brands that are loved unconditionally by bartenders. It’s not about what sells best, not about what customers are asking for and not about what makes sense financially. It’s simply: “What is your favourite?”

In this year’s top 10 we have three gins, three rums, two mezcals, one tequila and one vodka. It’s striking that you have to go down to 12th to find a whisk(ey).

Given that this is a cross-spirits table, with thousands of brands therefore eligible, it’s quite something how so many of the same names keep cropping up.

Tanqueray has topped this poll for four of the past five years – you can’t find a better compliment than top bartenders think it is the best spirit around and have consistently said so for half a decade.

We don’t split the brand into sub-domains (though Tanqueray Ten is loved by the trade), but it’s generally recognised this spirit, created for all those years by Tom Nichol (recently retired), is one of the best around.

Plantation didn’t figure in this list last year (it was 7th in 2015) but anyone who has a social media feed in the industry will know that this is one of the brands of the moment. Three Stars and Original Dark for mixing, plus a range of aged blended styles and single island vintages make this a brand of many parts. And not forgetting Plantation Pineapple, which dropped like a happy-bomb of hysteric proportions when it rolled out to global markets from the US last year.

Del Maguey is no stranger to this list. It beat Tanqueray to top spot in 2015, came second in 2016 and maintains its podium finishes with a third place in 2017. For a mezcal to be consistently recognised as one of the best spirits around by bartenders, shows just how far Ron Cooper, its owner, and the category has come.



The Drinks International Annual Bar Report looks to gauge the buying habits of the best bars in the world by conducting a survey of their owners, head bartenders and bar managers.

The bars that took part – what we refer to as the best bars in the world – are a sample of 108 bars that finished in the top 250 places of the World’s 50 Best Bars survey, now owned by William Reed Business Media. Given the depth and scope of The World’s 50 Best Bars poll (voted for by 476 global bar experts) we feel this is the most credible place to source our sample of bars.

In each instance we asked the bartender to rank their three best selling products in each category, giving us an indication of the brands that are selling best.

As we know, a best selling brand, even in the best bars in the world, earns its place on more than taste, so we also wanted to know the brands that are not necessarily doing huge volumes but have cool-appeal right now. This is where the Trending brands come in. These are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth, or even on bartenders’ recommendations.

For more on the methodology see How we did it