Salvatore Calabrese at Fifty, London
Many will tell you that Salvatore Calabrese is the best bartender in the UK. To some he’s the best in the world – and you’ll find him here, at Fifty, the Robert Earl-owned super-luxurych private members’ club and casino located in the heart of St James’s. Calabrese used to rule the roost at the Lanesborough Hotel nearby, where he made history with modern classics such as his famed Breakfast Martini. It’s still a high point at Fifty, along with others he has since created, such as the Spicy Fifty – vanilla vodka and elderflower cordial shaken with fresh lime juice, honey and a touch of red chilli, which cleverly takes away any lingering sweetness yet leaves the mouth tingling pleasantly. In addition to the extensive cocktails offered there are also 500 different bottles of spirits, with an unrivalled cognac collection that dates from 1788 – Calabrese’s biggest passion. 50 St James’s Street, London SW1; +44 (0)20 7491 4678,
Post Bar, Singapore
It’s not stamps you’ll get if you queue at 1 Fullerton Square these days but a Singapore Sling. The former General Post Office underwent a makeover in 2001 when it was transformed into the Fullerton Hotel. The old transaction hall is now the Post Bar, with its smart under-lit honey-onyx bar tables and funky artichoke cardboard lamps – the place to go in Singapore for a cocktail. Actually the Sling isn’t the most popular drink here probably because it was created by another famous Singapore hotel (Raffles). Instead, 28-year-old head bartender Mohamed Azam has made his mark with his own concoctions – some linked to events in the city, such as the recent arrival of Formula One. Cue the Fullerton Hairpin – a rather scary concoction of Midori, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and grenadine – but then maybe it’s supposed to increase the heart rate? The most popular, though, are the Caipirinha and the Caipiroska, and Azam is particularly proud of his White Cosmopolitan – Absolut Citron mixed with Triple Sec, white cranberry juice, freshly squeezed lime juice and garnished with cranberries. If you miss it, you can always try it at the Post Bar’s new outpost in Terminal 3 at Changi Airport.
The Fullerton Hotel, 1 Fullerton Square, Singapore; +65 6877 8135,
Milk & Honey, London
Thank you, Jonathan Downey, for opening the best cocktail bar I’ve ever visited – think candlelit 1930s speakeasy, with Sinatra crooning over the cosy banquettes. To be accurate, I should say, thank you, Sasha Petraske – he’s the New Yorker behind the original Milk & Honey in Manhattan – though it was Downey who persuaded Petraske to open up a branch in London back in 2002. But then Downey – a flip-flop-wearing, surfer-shorted, ex-international corporate lawyer – is a persuasive kind of guy. He signed up New York cocktail guru Dale DeGroff as a consultant to the group (there are now nine bars in all – the latest opening is in Melbourne) – and boy, can that man mix a drink. DeGroff made his name in the late 1980s as the head bartender at New York’s Rainbow Room where he revitalised cocktail classic, the Cosmopolitan. Milk & Honey pays homage with his signature garnish of a flaming orange peel, which elevates the classic drink further.
61 Poland Street, Soho, W1; +44 (0)7000 655 469,
The Bar Hemingway, Paris
Tucked away in a corner of the Ritz Hotel, the Bar Hemingway is just one tiny room. As the name suggests, it was a favourite haunt of the man himself, Ernest Hemingway, and old photos of him line the walls, along with others that record the places that inspired him. So yes, there’s the history of the place (Joyce, Green and Sartre all used to drink here), but there’s also the excellent cocktails, made by Colin Field and his team. ‘The creation of a new cocktail is first and foremost a question of psychology,’ declares Field. In other words, you tell him how you feel and he’ll make something to suit your mood. His creations include the Lemon Charlie (Limoncello and Smirnoff Black vodka), while ice-cold martinis based on homemade vodka macerations such as black truffles and raspberries are also pretty good – and he’ll make you the best mojito outside Havana.
Ritz Hotel, 15 Place Vendôme, Paris; +33 (0)1 43 16 30 30,
Tailor, New York
Tailor is one of the reasons that New York currently shares equal billing with London as the world’s hottest cocktail spot. The Broome Street newcomer has the whole town talking about its innovative drinks, created by bar director Eben Freeman. He holds court in the dark basement lounge with his don’t-call-it-molecular mixology – cue the Mojito of the Future, with its liquid nitrogen-treated mint balls, and the Bazooka, made with vodka and ‘bubble-gum’ cordial. It all begins to make sense when you find out that Tailor’s owner, Sam Mason, is the former pastry chef at Wylie Dufresne’s ground-breaking WD-50 restaurant not too far away. So make sure you eat something, too – pork belly with miso butterscotch and artichoke, perhaps? Or how about foie gras with peanut butter, cocoa and pear?
525 Broome Street, New York; +1 212 334 5182,