It's a very good day to be Shingo Gokan, the mixologist and proprietor of Speak Low and Sober Company – both his bars have been named on Asia's 50 Best Bars 2017 at #2 and #19 respectively. The latter constitutes an extraordinary achievement for Gokan (pictured above), who opened the venue in just March of 2017. They are also joined by Yao Lu's Union Trading Company, which clinched the #9 spot.
Having made a name for himself in New York at legendary speakeasy Angel's Share, Gokan has become known for grand, multi-concept venues that offer different something on each floor, as seen at both Speak Low and Sober Company (below), which combines dining and drinking experiences throughout.
Yao Lu's Union Trading Company, on the other hand, is a smaller format bar that focuses on a roisterous and fun atmosphere, aided and abetted by a comfort food bar menu by partner chef Austin Hu, and a cocktail program that changes with the seasons.
The 2017 edition marked the second time Beijing's bar scene has received recognition, with Warren Pang and Milan Sekulic’s Janes + Hooch (below) named in the #33 spot, down from #18 on last year's inaugural list. The innovative Sanlitun institution is beloved for its Asian-inflected beverages that play with local ingredients.
Elsewhere in Greater China, Hong Kong scored big time with a total of eight bars on the list: Quinary (#7), Stockton (#8), Lobster Bar (#10), The Pontiac (#16), Zuma (#14), 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana (#26 — it also has an extension in Shanghai), The Chinnery at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (#42) and Dr. Fern's Gin Parlour (#48). None from Macau made the cut.
Taiwan also did moderately well, with three Taipei establishments included: Indulge Experimental Bistro (#5), East End (#39) and Club Boys Saloon (#49).
Seems this is case in point that China's cocktail game is on the up, but the proof will be in how many of these bars make it onto the global version of the list, which is to be revealed in October 2017. Last year only five made the cut.