Brands Report 2022: How We Did It

Brands Report editor Hamish Smith explains the methodolgy behind the report's polling system.

The Brands Report, now in its 13th year, delves into the buying behaviour at the elite end of the bar business through a poll of the world’s best bars (more on how we define this later). The object is not to gain a wide insight into thousands of bars but those that operate at the most influential end of the pyramid, so we limit participation to a group of 100 bars, which complete detailed questionnaires on their spirits buying habits.

This invitation-only sample is made up of venues that have appeared in recent editions of The Word’s 50 Best Bars (1-100), Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards, Top 500 Bars, plus regional awards such as Asia’s 50 Best Bars and Germany’s Mixology Awards; and countrywide awards: the Class Bar Awards, Australian Bartender Awards and the Time Out Awards from various markets around the world.

As fewer awards have taken place in the past 12 months, 5% of those invited to take part were ‘Editor’s picks’ – bars of high regard in areas which have seen less travel due to pandemic restrictions. As our pool of bars rotates each year, it tracks to the success stories of the industry. Of course, a balance has to be found between narrowing in on the parts of the world where the most elite bars exist and achieving a global geographical spread.

This year, the 100 bars taking part in the survey were drawn from 36 countries. As you’d expect, markets with a high concentration of top-end bars are represented accordingly. Europe, with strong bar scenes across many developed drinks markets, made up 40% of the sample. Sixteen countries in Europe contributed bars, led by France, Italy, the UK and Spain. By way of example, 50 Best 2021 bars Baba Au Rum, 1930, Drink Kong, El Copitas, Two Schmucks and Tjoget all took part.

Representing its huge strides in recent years, Asia made up 21% of the sample of the world’s best bars. Bars from seven Asian countries took part, with Singapore, China, Japan and Thailand providing the most. Coa from Hong Kong, SG Club from Tokyo and Jigger & Pony in Singapore were among those taking part.

In previous years, South America was perhaps under-represented in our sample, which we addressed this year – for 2022, 15% of the pool was from South America, led by Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, including two of those that have featured on 50 Best lists – Tres Monos and Alquimico.

North America, meanwhile, is led by the US, with bars such as Attaboy, Smuggler’s Cove and Crown Shy taking part. Australasia – essentially Australia and New Zealand – made up 7% of our sample, with Maybe Sammy and Clipper two notable inclusions.

Finally, Africa & the Middle East contributed 5% of bars, with UAE, Lebanon and South Africa all featuring.


We asked bar owners, head bartenders and bar managers to open up their spreadsheets and divulge their bars’ buying habits. Each respondent was asked to rank their three bestselling products in each spirit category (plus selected wine, beer, modifiers and mixers).

A bestselling 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 are on trend. This is where the Trending lists come in. Within these tables are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth or even on bartenders’ recommendations. Often the brands that figure highly in the Trending list move on to the Bestselling list the following year, as curiosity and excitement transition to weight of sales.

The Bartenders’ Choice list is where we see what bartenders themselves prize most, irrespective of what sells best or what is trending. So, brands here have the kudos of bartender love, if not necessarily sales. But, if Drinks International’s website viewing numbers are anything to go by, the Bestselling Classics section is the list with the widest appeal – perhaps led by consumers. Here we see classics ranked from one to 50 – it’s a slow-moving list but trends are discernible, particularly over a period of years. 

We finish with the Spirits list, where we track the most used categories. While these lists are snapshots – by no means unit-by-unit accurate – over the years they have yielded consistent results, which reassures us of the insight they provide.