London is home to half of the world’s top ten bars

Five of the world’s best bars are located in the heart of our great Olympic city and there are many more which feature on the full list of the top 50. Having five of the top ten bars listed, located in London is a real coup for the city.

The Drinks International poll of experts listed the top ten as:

  1. Please Don’t Tell – New York
  2. Connaught – London
  3. Artesian – London
  4. Death & Co – New York
  5. Milk & Honey – London
  6. The American Bar at The Savoy - London
  7. 69 Colebrooke Row – London
  8. Drink – Boston
  9. Harry’s New York Bar – Paris
  10. Black Pearl - Melbourne


We can all learn lessons from these results; first and foremost that far from being a dying trade, the drinks industry and the licensed hospitality sector is flourishing when proprietors get it right.

The trick is to learn from those who are most successful, not to compete with them or replicate them, but to develop unique solutions by learning from the core factors which make them successful. Not every business can compete with those listed when it comes to location or décor; most businesses do not have millions of pounds to invest in the aesthetics of their premises, however its not all about the property design.


So what do the world’s and London’s best bars have in common:

  • Service – The first, second and final impressions your customers have, will be determined by the service they receive. From the greeting / acknowledgement they receive on arrival, to the product presentation and the gratitude for their custom they are shown as they leave; service reflects your standards.
  • Customer Identity – Identifying and meeting the requirements of your customer base delivers longevity for the business. Decide and focus on your target audience, don’t try and please everyone by mixing and matching as you’ll end up pleasing no one. Know who it is your business is looking to attract and engage with them, never assume you know what they want better than they do.
  • Build Brand Awareness – Your brand is your business, reflect the long term effectiveness of your brand in your business plan. New businesses should not get fixated on brand logos, providing they are suitable, well designed and effective, people will remember the brand by the business performance, get the business right consistently and the brand will soon reflect that standard.
  • Embrace Change – There is a long list of businesses which were incredibly successful, yet which failed to embrace change and while sitting on their laurels, sunk into obscurity and failed. In the licensed hospitality sector this is as important as anywhere, venues soon loose their shine if they stand still and fail to develop at the same fast pace of their customers preferences.
  • Marketing – The very best form of marketing is ‘word of mouth’, when you get it right, people tell people and people invite other people. Think about your own behaviour, if you find a new gem amongst the sea of mediocrity, not only do you go back again and again, you take friends to show it off to or to show off to…
  • Location – Location is important but it is not always the determining factor. If your business plan relies on through trade, you’ll need to be on a busy thoroughfare, with appropriate signage to draw people who don’t know about you in. However if you look at the best of the best, that is not the case, they rely on their great reputations to draw people into making positive decisions to travel to them; providing that are in a reasonable catchment area for their target customers.
  • Create Demand – Those who reach the very top of the tree, be that internationally, nationally or locally create their own demand by their exclusivity; ‘exclusivity’ is often a confused concept, it doesn’t have to be linked to wealth or cost.  If you can create sufficient demand to make attendance at your premises so desirable that people perceive entry / getting a reservation as a privilege, you can create a cycle of positive marketing; increasing the ‘word of mouth’ marketing by those who do gain entry ‘announcing’ this to their circle of influence.


Recognition is always a welcome way of generating free marketing for any business and a very useful tool in motivating employees. However getting on the list of the world’s top ten bars is not realistic for all but a very few. The recognition of your customers is the first thing that any great business strives for.

Always learn from the very best, there are many reasons they have reached their status. Use those lessons which you can and employ in your business to make it the best it can be.


Related Stories

World’s 50 Best Bars - Drinks International

If you fancy a drink, five of the world’s top bars are in London – Evening Standard


Date – 9th November 2011

Submitted by – Peter Mayhew


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