[Fox Business] Michelin star-like guide reveals best bars around the world

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Exploring luxurious bars and sipping sophisticated cocktails around the world has been made easier with a newly released guide to bars that is similar to the Michelin guide.

The Pinnacle Guide, developed by three founders — Dan Dove, Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne — is a recognition system of bars that assesses the cocktail scene on a global scale and evaluates venues through a rigorous application and analysis process.

The first Pinnacle Guide was released earlier in May, and the team is wrapping up its delivery of awards.

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“There are two parts to the way a bar gets judged,” Dove, of London, England, told FOX Business in a phone interview. 

“First, the online application is made up of 100 questions. The bars typically take two to three weeks to complete this initial task.”

Criteria evaluated for a top spot on a bold list of bars includes sustainability, recruitment of staff, management of team members and drink programs, and environment, among others.

“It’s much more vigorous than any other system out there,” said Dove, a 20-year veteran in the luxury drink industry and founder of a global bartending agency. “We’re going into much more detail on how these businesses are run.”

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In addition to this, food is a consideration but not a requirement for pin status.

“We did stipulate that every bar has to have at least two non-alcoholic drinks on the menu,” Dove said. “We really believe in building the non-alcoholic occasion, and well-being is at the forefront of many people’s minds.”

If a bar exceeds pin components, it is judged by “very, very” secretive reviewers.

“They’re completely anonymous,” Dove said. “They go through full training, sign NDAs and two-year contracts, which they can’t break for the two-year period they get signed on for.”

Hundreds of reviewers are scattered across seven countries, including the U.K., the U.S. Mexico, Dubai, Spain, Singapore and Australia, and inconspicuously evaluate bars that have nominated themselves, the group said.

Once a bar is celebrated by the Pinnacle Guide, it maintains its status for a two-year period, then reapplies to be reassessed. 

One opportunity within a two-year period is provided for a bar that earns one pin in hopes of increasing its status — but it can also decrease during a reassessment.

“Nobody has yet to obtain three pins in the application process and three pins in the bar review,” Dove said.

Only show-stopping bars that receive three pins for both parts of the evaluation process can secure the coveted three pins all around.

“We expect this section to have very, very few numbers globally,” Dove said.

Feedback is critical to the Pinnacle Guide founders. They offer bars as much insight into their score as possible, whether they have pin status or not.

Thirty-seven bars around the world with a fresh take on atmosphere and cocktails earned at least one pin.

“The bars have had fun trying to figure out who the reviewers might be,” Dove said.

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The brand is looking to expand to over 30 countries in the next 2½ years. It said it is enlisting residents in popular locations around the world to conserve a sustainable evaluation.

“We know we have proven that it works,” Dove said. “The way that we set the system up is to be able to expand quickly.”

In the U.S., Dove said, he and his co-founders are recruiting reviewers by state and will continue to do so, based on the whereabouts of submitted applications.

“We’ve had such amazing people come forward,” he said — “people who travel as part of their way of life and have a passion within the cocktail industry.”

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As for the newly revealed pins, bars in Louisiana, Arizona, Maine, Minneapolis and New York City have received one pin, and others in Arizona, Kentucky, Los Angeles and San Francisco have received two.

Fine point cocktail lounges like Paradiso, a well-recognized, highly awarded speakeasy bar by Giacomo Giannotti in Spain, which opened in 2015, received two pins.

On the menu, guests can find “Enigma,” a drink served from a ceramic head sliced open at the top, exposing a brain, or a “Mediterranean Treasure” poured into a seashell. Patrons are welcomed to the sensory experience through a refrigerator door.

The Pinnacle Guide announced one pin to Kwãnt Mayfair, owned by world-class bartender Erik Lorincz, in London. The menu offers cocktails topped with hickory clouds of smoke and a cracker brushed in miso distillate to emanate an umami flavor.

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While the guide taps into Michelin star prestige, Dove said there are no plans on the table for either party to work together on a combined list.

“We highly regard the Michelin guide,” he said. “It was a huge part of our inspiration.”

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle.

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