Fever-Tree has been named the number one tonic brand for the seventh year running and after a flurry of arrivals in recent years, the category is looking a little more settled. It’s always been the one mixer a bar can’t do without and in 2020, true to type, every bar polled stocked tonic water.

If the other lists in this report speak of the bestselling and the trending brands in the world of elite bars, this ranking is different. Here we ask about bartenders’ favourite spirits.

The rise in non-alcoholic alternatives has led to the sector’s inaugural list in the Brands Report 2021, with Diageo’s Seedlip sitting pretty in the rankings.

In branding, marketing and ownership, champagne is the spirit category of wine. Not coincidently, it’s also the wine style you’ll see most in cocktail bars – somehow a glass of good sparkles fits the environs perfectly. Then you have classic cocktails which call for its use.

Brands Report 2021: Beer

06 January, 2021

Given the nature of high-end cocktail bars the Brands Report lends itself more to lager and lighter styles of beer over stouts and real ale, with Diageo’s Guinness proving the exception to the rule.

Brands Report 2021: Vermouth

06 January, 2021

Vermouth is the fortified wine of choice in the cocktail bar. We say choice, but when so many classics demand it (think Negroni, Dry Martini, Manhattan) there’s little choice about it – 100% of our sample stocked two lines of vermouth; 98% stocked three or more.

Brands Report 2021: Sherry

06 January, 2021

Sherry, while a category in historical volume decline, has a fresher demeanour behind the bar. Here sherry is among friends – friends who cannot get enough of fortified wines.

Right across the world Angostura Bitters plays a key role in cocktail menus and classics such as the Old Fashioned and Pisco Sour, and in 84% of the industry’s top bars it was the number one choice.

Brands Report 2021: Liqueurs

06 January, 2021

It’s six of the best for Campari, which continues to rise above competition in our liqueurs league. Of course, its symbiotic relationship with the Negroni is a big contributor to sales – once again the Italian classic is the second most popular classic in our sample.

Brands Report 2021: Cachaça

06 January, 2021

Cachaça is a category seemingly always on the verge but never really catching on. That said, it has presence in top bars.

Brands Report 2021: Mezcal

06 January, 2021

Mezcal’s journey from exotic curiosity to established category in the world’s best bars is nearing completion. Ninety-seven per cent of our polled bars said they stocked at least one mezcal. Three quarters had two brands and two thirds said they stocked three lines or more.

Brands Report 2021: Tequila

06 January, 2021

Diageo’s Don Julio has topped the bestselling tequila list for the sixth year in a row. The brand accounted for 15% of our bars’ first-choice tequilas and 18% of the top-three pours in the world’s best venues.

Brands Report 2021: Brandy

05 January, 2021

Brandy is a global category, with styles emanating from all parts of the world – all parts that grow vines that is. Cognac has been ring-fenced for its own list, enabling us to properly focus on the brandies that have risen to prominence outside of the French region’s glare.

Brands Report 2021: Cognac

05 January, 2021

Once again LVMH giant Hennessy has topped our list of the bestselling cognac brands for 2021.

Brands Report 2021: Vodka

05 January, 2021

Vodka is the fourth most used spirit in the bars we poll. These days, bartenders want vodkas that can stand up to bold flavours (think the Espresso Martini) and against a wider trend towards flavour, the days of insipid neutral spirits are behind us.

The world whiskies category is a mixed bag from all corners of the Earth, excluding the historical categories of scotch, American and Irish whiskey.

It says something of Irish whiskey’s progress over recent years that 92% of respondents to our survey stock the category of spirits in their bar – that just wouldn’t have been the case 10 years ago.

Scotch leader Johnnie Walker made it 11 wins from 12 this year, with another dominant display. No matter where you are among the world’s top bars, this is the scotch you’re most likely to see behind the stick, according to our poll.

Diageo’s Bulleit has come out trumps as the bestselling brand in the American whiskey category for the third time in four years.

Brands Report 2021: Gin

04 January, 2021

The last time Bombay topped our gin list bartenders were wearing bow ties and gin was still being tipped as the next big thing. But here we have it, 10 years on, and like a phoenix (rising from a respectable fourth place) Bombay takes the juniper wreath.

Brands Report 2021: Rum

04 January, 2021

The past couple of years have been tougher than usual for Bacardi, with Hurricane Irma sweeping through the Caribbean in 2017, the end of its distribution partnership with BrownForman in 2019 and then the outbreak of Covid-19.

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

Fever-Tree has been named the number one tonic brand for the seventh year running and after a flurry of arrivals in recent years, the category is looking a little more settled. It’s always been the one mixer a bar can’t do without and in 2020, true to type, every bar polled stocked tonic water.

The Drinks International Annual Brands Report 2021 has launched.

Champagne is a category in which brand reputation has a key role. Its expense clearly plays a part in consumers' brand loyalty - creating a reluctance to experiment with lesser-known brands as they might in the craft-spun worlds of beer and gin, for example.

The continued premiumisation of tonic has changed the level of expectation consumers have for simple serves such as the G&T.

Brands Report 2020: Beer

28 January, 2020

Almost 20% of bars polled for the Brands Report said Heineken was their number one bestseller.

Brands Report 2020: Sherry

28 January, 2020

That 90% of our sample of the world’s best bars say they stock sherry goes some way to explain the renewed importance of this Spanish fortified in the modern cocktail bar.

Brands Report 2020: Vermouth

28 January, 2020

Manhattan, Martini, Martinez... the list of reasons to reach into the fridge for vermouth are many, and never has the bartender had such a choice.

If the bitters category was laid out like a Monopoly board then Angostura would have hotels on Mayfair and Park Lane.

Brands Report 2020: Liqueurs

23 January, 2020

While it feels like Negronis have been big business for a decade, our research suggests it’s been more like half that.

Brands Report 2020: Cachaça

20 January, 2020

Cachaça's dependence on the Caipirinha cocktail creates both opportunities and problems for the category.

Brands Report 2020: Mezcal

20 January, 2020

Del Maguey has yet again dominated the mezcal results for 2020, with 44% of bars suggesting it’s their bestseller.

Brands Report 2020: Pisco

14 January, 2020

The ongoing debate over the origins of pisco – and therefore the most authentic choice of brands – will probably never conclude. One thing which cannot be argued is that Chilean pisco is more popular with bartenders than it used to be. 

Brands Report 2020: Brandy

14 January, 2020

Torres has been named the bestselling brandy in this year's Brands Report.

Brands Report 2020: Tequila

14 January, 2020

Don Julio has retained its crown as the bestselling tequila brand in the world’s best bars.

Brands Report 2020: Cognac

13 January, 2020

Elevated to its own category in the Brands Report, the new cognac list still has a familiar order.

Brands Report 2020: Vodka

13 January, 2020

Ketel One has retained its position as the bestselling vodka brand in the world, with 32% of elite bars declaring it the number one choice.

This catch-all category, taking in global whiskies (outside of American, scotch and Irish) tends to be dominated by Japan.

In the bar channel, Irish whiskey might take a back seat to American styles, and even scotch, but few venues don't have a small collection on their back bar.

Because so many classics call for bourbon and rye, scotch has never been the go-to whisky in cocktail bars, but it is certainly now much more in the thinking.

With the proliferation of distilleries continent-wide, North American whiskey is no longer the sole domain of its heartlands Kentucky and Tennessee.

Brands Report 2020: Rum

08 January, 2020

Rum's lighter styles rein supreme in the world's best bars, according to our findings.

The Brands Report is a snapshot of the buying habits of the best bars in the world.

Brands Report 2020: Gin

08 January, 2020

Tanqueray tops the gin pops this year, edging out old foe Beefeater.

Brands Report: Pisco

16 January, 2018

There’s an exciting new entrant in this sector, reports Shay Waterworth

Brands Report: Scotch Whisky

08 January, 2018

The previously unassailable Johnnie Walker could be showing signs of weakness, finds Hamish Smith

Brands Report: Irish Whiskey

08 January, 2018

The growing Irish Whiskey category gets its first page to itself this year. Hamish Smith explains why

Brands Report: World Whisky

05 January, 2018

With Irish Whiskey stripped out, other countries get a chance to shine. Hamish Smith does the maths

Diageo’s Bulleit holds both top spots for the third year running. Shay Waterworth reports

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Nick Strangeway

Could bars be no-phone zones?

For about six hours in early October the world was brought to a standstill. However, it wasn’t the outbreak of a global pandemic that spread panic, but the simultaneous crash of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

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