Why hotel bars are the hottest places to drink in 2023

Hotel bars around the globe are trending as the hottest places to raise a glass and Proof Creative says Australian cocktail lovers are eagerly embracing the trend.

The obsession is being fuelled by a boom in hotel stays. Australia’s tourism sector will surpass pre-pandemic visitor expenditure levels this year and reach $227.7 billion by 2027, the latest official forecasts from Tourism Research Australia show.

Meanwhile, 60% of Australians, according to the booking engine Expedia, plan to stay in a city hotel this year.

However, it’s not just hotel guests on bar stools. Hotel bars are attracting a broad customer base seeking the glamour and stunning views that many of these luxury establishments offer, together with rapidly evolving cocktail offerings.

Proof Creative is Proof & Company’s F&B consultancy and has won a slew of awards, including four World’s 50 Best Bars (2022), 10 Asia’s 50 Best Bars, World’s Best Spirits Selection (2019), World’s Best Hotel Bar (2019) and World’s Best Cocktail List (2020).

Proof Creative works holistically across all aspects of the bar experience, including initial concept creation, brand development, functional layout, master beverage lists and signature cocktails.

Following 10 years of launching some of the world’s best hotel bars across the Asia Pacific, and hot on the heels of the newly-announced global partnership with Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Proof Creative has set its sights on the world of beverages in five-Star Australian hotels.

Proof & Company General Manager Australia and New Zealand Damian Kaehler said: “Hotel bars around the world are famous for the unique experiences they provide.

“Think the American Bar at the Savoy in London or Manhattan Bar in Singapore, Australia is quickly unearthing exceptional hotel bar experiences and we have been lucky enough to collaborate on hotel bars including The Level 32 Rooftop bar in InterContinental Sydney and SkyBar Melbourne [pictured main], now nightly hotspots known for their unique experiences and world-class drinks.

“The cocktail movement is gaining traction fast with people celebrating cocktail culture all around the world. People want to go to the best bars, experience a touch of something different, an escape from the everyday. Hotel bars are perfectly suited to cater to that need.”

The second ‘Golden Age’ of fine drinking

Kaehler said the hotel bar trend is perfectly suited to the second ‘Golden Age’ of fine drinking that has followed the restrictions and lockdowns of the pandemic.

The first Golden Age of fine drinking is widely regarded as the 1830s to Prohibition in the United States. It was the dawn of the modern era of drinking, which kicked off with the creation of the first cocktail in 1806 – the Old Fashioned – which was quickly followed by classics such as the Martini and Manhattan.

“The second Golden Age of fine drinking is a resurgence of appreciation for drinking better quality and expertly crafted spirits,” Kaehler explained.

“A new kind of cocktail culture has evolved off the back of the pandemic, people are more comfortable and confident in making cocktails now, than ever before. With greater knowledge of what goes into drinks, comes greater appreciation for the industry and higher expectations when visiting cocktails bars and restaurants on a night out.

“The bar has been set high. We see it every day; in the products we stock, in the clients we work with, in everything that we do. Premium and premium plus categories continue to grow, venues offering exceptional quality and craft are thriving despite the setbacks from COVID-19.”

Elevating the hotel bar experience

One of the first hotel projects in Australia for Proof Creative was Tasmania’s Mary Mary. Launching in December of 2021, Proof Creative worked with the owners from conceptualisation right through to execution.

Housed inside a heritage building from the late 1800’s, The Tasman, A Luxury Collection Hotel, the idea was for the space to become a beacon of fine drinking for the local Tasmanian community. Proof Creative supported the sourcing of native ingredients to live across the cocktail menu, as well as liaising with local ceramicists to produce custom vessels for signature serves, building on the exclusive
in-house experience.

“This venue will be a beacon to the world of fine drinking here in Tasmania, joining a collection of the world’s most notable hospitality experiences,” said Stephen Morahan, General Manager for The Tasman, A Luxury Collection Hotel.

Proof Creative also worked across the InterContinental Sydney’s restoration and relaunch of Aster Bar and The Treasury. Situated on the 32nd floor, Aster is a stunning rooftop bar with 270-degree views of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and more.

The Treasury holds a vault of carefully curated links to the past and present, with 170-year-old heritage sandstone alcoves and earthy brick archways.

Proof Creative was appointed during the refurbishment and repositioning stage of the project to develop venue and beverage concepts, functional bar layout and much more. The cocktail menu of Aster Bar plucks inspiration from drinks found at the world’s best hotel bars, feeding into the overall vibe of the beauty and riches of Sydney.

“What an incredible opportunity to be a part of the InterContinental Sydney’s new era,” said Senior Bar Consultant at Proof And Company Charlie Ainsbury.

“To work on not one, but two bar concepts in the building was a challenge we relished in, especially collaborating with
many other disciplines such as construction, interior design, brand and marketing.

“To see the Treasury come to life in that sun-drenched heritage backdrop is nothing short of magical and will cement itself as an iconic hotel bar location. I am confident that its cocktail bar Aster, high up on level 32, will enter into the canon of the world’s great hotel bars. This project truly marks the beginning of Australia’s renaissance of fine drinking in hotel bars.”

Proof Creative facilitated pre and post-opening training and support for bar staff.

“The opportunity to work directly with Proof Creative has been extremely inspirational and a seamless partnership,” said InterContinental Sydney General Manager Jennifer Brown.

“From research, concept creation, architect support and bar design; it has been an absolute pleasure to work with the Proof Creative team who understood the project brief clearly and provided advice and support at every stage to bring the bars to life, with a vision to launch two of Sydney’s best hotel bars.”

The world’s best international hotel bars

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation named Lyaness at Sea Containers London as Best International Hotel Bar for 2022 at the Spirited Awards.

The international nominees were:

  • Bar Trigona at the Four Seasons Hotel — Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel — Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Bulgari Bar at The Bvlgari Resort — Dubai, UAE
  • Charles H. Seoul at the Four Seasons Hotel — Seoul, South Korea
  • Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Hotel — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel — Singapore
  • Lyaness at Sea Containers London — London, UK
  • MO BAR at the Mandarin Oriental — Singapore
  • Origin Bar at The Shangri-La Hotel — Singapore
  • The American Bar at The Stafford London — London, UK
  • The Donovan Bar at the Brown’s Hotel — London, UK

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