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UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars: Cardiff’s Lab 22 takes top spot

February 2, 2022 by Joel Davidge

The Top 50 Cocktail Bars list have released their rankings for 2022, with Cardiff’s Lab 22 taking top honours.

The Cocktail Service was at the presentation ceremony at One Night Records, hosted by drinks expert Aidy Smith.

The UK’s Best Cocktail Bar

The interior of Lab 22 in Cardiff, winner of Top 50 Cocktail Bars for 2022

Experimental Lab 22 from Cardiff has leaped up the list, jumping 32 places in two years.

Once labelled an “up-and-coming” venue, it’s fair to say that the potential shown in previous years has now delivered in a big way.

Award-winning head bartender Max Hayward curates a daring drinks menu which is adapted throughout the year.

Their current menu, Theory + Frontiers, is inspired by science and innovation, focusing on how the space will look in the future.

It includes bespoke cocktails such as the Concrete Daisy, which is inspired by the practice of sustainable urban farming.

Situated above a well-known bakery brand in central Cardiff, previous menus have seen bartenders breathing fire, and other experiential takes on mixology.

There is a focus on education and experience, with guests able to scan a QR code to discover more about the drinks they’ve been enjoying.

Industry Analysis – Andy Styles, The Cocktail Service

What an evening!

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, it was fantastic to see the industry come out to spotlight innovation and creativity within the industry.

Lab 22 have been doing some fascinating work in recent years, so it’s fantastic to see this pay off, first with their win of the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award at the 50 Best Bars presentation, and now this well-deserved win.

You could hear from the roar from the crowd when host Aidy Smith mentioned that the bar was from Wales, how well regarded this bar team is within the industry.

It’s great to see a focus on sustainability with an award dedicated to highlighting processes which all bars can and should incorporate. We’re doing lots of work in this space at present, so we’ll be watching what Little Mercies do next with great interest.

This is an industry leading event – the aim is to find the bar which drinks professionals like to frequent.

With that in mind, it’s fantastic to see so many other bars which we’ve admired (and in some cases collaborated with) be rewarded for their hard work and vision.

The Top 50 Cocktail Bars List

The Lab 22 team from Cardiff including head bartender Max Hayward, with host Aidy Smith at the 2022 Top 50 Cocktail Bars awards at One Night Records in London

1. Lab 22, Cardiff

2. Swift Soho, London

3. The Connaught Bar, London – read the Number 11 cocktail recipe from The Connaught

4. Tayēr + Elementary, London

5. Satan’s Whiskers, London

6. Bramble Bar & Lounge, Edinburgh

7. Three Sheets, London – discover the Foraged Martini recipe from Three Sheets

8. Oriole, London

9. Panda and Sons, Edinburgh

10. Speak in Code, Manchester

11. 🔶🟥🔵, London

12. Disrepute, London

13. Nightjar, London

14. Homeboy Bar, London

15. American Bar, London

16. SCHOFIELD’S BAR, Manchester

17. Opium Cocktails & Dim Sum Parlour, London

18. Coupette, London

19. Artesian, London – read how Artesian made disco drinks cool again

20. Scarfes Bar, London

21. Trailer Happiness, London

22. Lucky Liquor co., Edinburgh

23. Happiness Forgets, London

24. Jake’s Bar & Still Room, Leeds

25. Little Mercies, London

26. The Absent Ear, Glasgow

27. The Milk Thistle, Bristol

28. Berry & Rye, Liverpool

29. Laki Kane, London – Discover: our roundup of London’s coolest bars features Laki Kane

30. Filthy XIII, Bristol

31. Lyaness, London

32. Roland’s Leeds, Leeds

33. Gungho!, Brighton

34. Hacha, London – read our interview with Hacha’s Emma Murphy

35. The Hideout, Bath

36. Pennyroyal, Cardiff

37. Couch, Birmingham

38. Bar Termini, London

39. Below Stairs, Leeds

40. Hey Palu, Edinburgh

41. Public, Sheffield

42. Hedonist, Leeds

43. Present Company, Liverpool

44. The Pineapple Club, Birmingham

45. Publiq., London

46. Ojo Rojo, Bournemouth – in focus: read how Ojo Rojo head bartender Courtney Francis won Britain’s best tequila cocktail competition

47. L’ Atelier du Vin, Brighton

48. Callooh Callay, London

49. Mother Mercy, Newcastle upon Tyne

50. The Cocktail Trading Co, London

Specialist Awards

Newcomer of the Year: Bar Ikigai, Birmingham

Bar Team of the Year: Three Little Words, Manchester

One to Watch: Déjà vu, Hereford

Sustainable Bar of the Year: Little Mercies, London

About The Top 50 Cocktail Bars List

Brought to you by The Morning Advertiser, the Top 50 Cocktail Bars list launched in 2018.

After a hiatus last year, the list makes a triumphant return curating a list of the best drinking establishments across the United Kingdom.

Hundreds of experts, bartenders, bar owners and drinks writers submit their votes for the list.

Top 50 Cocktail Bars community manager Charli Tomney notes that voters are taken from six geographical regions to ensure each area in the UK has equal opportunity to shine.

Every voter has four votes: one for a cocktail bar in their region, and three others from other UK areas.

This year, along with the two entries for Wales, there were ten bars from the North of England, three from the West, two for the Midlands, and three in the South.

With five spots taken by Scottish bars, this left London to dominate the rest of the list, claiming half of the positions.

Top 50 Cocktail Bars publisher Christopher Lowe said: “London has always been seen as a global leader for cocktails but as you’ll see from the 2022 list, other major cities across the UK are now catching up.”

“Our newly launched website will help cocktail connoisseurs discover the best of the UK bar scene with many of these very much still under the radar.”

Aidy Smith who presented the awards said, “I am absolutely honoured to present this year’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars and in doing so, celebrating the beating heart of drinks discovery.”

“Without mixology, the world would never be able to discover drinks in such a unique and beautiful way. It’s this passion that sets bars and teams apart with a collective love and thirst for taste exploration.

After two harrowing years I can’t wait to get stuck in and honour some truly incredible people making some truly spectacular creations. Let’s do this!”

Find out more about the Top 50 Cocktail Bars list at or @50CockailBars

The Drop by The Cocktail Service covers the absolute best of the bar and drinks world.

Whether it’s an interview with a leading light in the spirits industry, a recipe from one of the best bars in the world, or analysis on current trends, you’ll want to read it.

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