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The man who knows where the best bars are in the world

The creative director of The World’s 50 Best Bars, published since 2009, assures that the most important thing for a bar to succeed is the human touch.

The creative director of The World's 50 Best Bars, published since 2009, assures that the most important thing for a bar to succeed is the human touch.
Mark Sansom's Instagram

Mark Sansom (London, 38 years old) is the creative director of The World’s 50 Best Bars, a company that selects the best bars and restaurants in the world every year. Since 2009, it has been publishing a ranking of the best drinking establishments on the planet with the help of 650 experts from around the globe and defines its work as “the best in the world”, as he explained in an interview for El País .

“I was going to be a professional rugby player, but I had an injury. So I studied English literature, then did a master’s degree in journalism, worked in publishing and then for Men’s Health magazine. I was also the editor of Food & Travel, which is the largest publication dedicated to the world of gastronomy in the world, for six years,” says Sansom. As well as being the creative brains, he’s the master of ceremonies for the roster reveal night each year.

“The World’s 50 Best Bars is the drinks industry’s most prestigious and highly anticipated night of the year, bringing together the best bartending talent from around the globe, with a live countdown of the list culminating in the announcement of The World’s Best Bar”, describes the company’s website.

This 2022 has chosen the cocktail bar of a bar in Barcelona, the Paradiso, as the best in the world, a “the majestic Dali-esque curved wooden bar that is Paradiso – the 2022 World’s Best Bar, sponsored by Perrier”, explains The World’s 50 Best Bars. After Paradiso, the organization has awarded Tayēr + Elementary (London), Sips (Barcelona), the Limantour Liquor Store (Mexico City) and the Little Red Door (Paris). Three of this year’s top 10 bars are in Barcelona, the two above and Two Schmucks.

What is the most important thing for a bar?

“This is the first year we have left the UK since 2012. Why Barcelona? It is a cosmopolitan city, bartenders from all over the world work here or meet here, so Barcelona is unbeatable in that respect. Also, we usually do it in December in London and you can imagine how fucking cold it is,” Sansom says with a laugh.

What is the most important thing to offer a good service? For the Englishman it is clear: “Both personally and professionally, it is very important not to be cheap. The key is to invest at all levels. I have done it and so has my organization. The size of the team is big, and when you do well, more and more people want to be on your side: bars, sponsors, etc. If you start with quality, you end with quality.” Sansom believes their gimmick is “being a super premium brand”, which makes the public see them “like Gucci” in the hospitality industry.

But for the Englishman, the key for your business to prosper is, without a doubt, customer treatment: “Now, if you ask me what someone should do to get on this list, this is what I believe: focus on hospitality, on the human factor. I may not like your cocktails or give a damn, but if I have a good time I’ll come back. A million times”, he assures in the interview.

“The first thing I would say to someone who wants to follow in my footsteps is to stay away from journalism. Sorry, nothing personal, I used to love magazines, I love paper, feeling it in my fingers, but stay away from journalism. Meet as many people as you can, travel as much as you can, find the heart of what you want to do, drink, eat, gobble it up. Open a bar? What the hell was I going to do that for? ” He concludes with a laugh.