World's best bar uses opium incense, inflatable pillows

The Artesian (The Langham London, Artesian)

The Artesian (The Langham London, Artesian)


, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

London boasts the best bars in the world, followed by New York and Paris, according to a new ranking that lists the 50 best watering holes on the planet.

And for the second year in a row, five-star destination The Artesian bar at the Langham London hotel took the top spot at the World's 50 Best Bars 2013 awards. Helmed by mixologist Alex Kratena, cocktails are elevated into a sensory experience that involves everything from opium, inflated pillows, smoke and mirrors.

Inspired by Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray," Kratena's Forever Young cocktail, for instance, forces drinkers to confront their own image every time they take sip. Set behind an angled mirror, the vodka, martini, lemon juice and eucalyptus syrup-spiked beverage is also accompanied by the aromatic smoke of opium incense sticks.

Another reason why The Artesian was named the world's best bar? Its Above and Beyond cocktail which comes with an inflatable balloon. Made with Zapaca rum, a 30-year-old sherry, crème de banane and mandarin bitters, the drink is served over a large ball of ice. Its garnish? An inflatable balloon which hovers above the cocktail and, when popped, releases the scent of eucalyptus and small bag of Guatemalan worry dolls.

Overall, London led the World's 50 Best Bars 2013 list with eight watering holes, followed by New York (7), and Paris (5).

The ranking is compiled by a panel of 227 influential mixologists and experts in the bar industry. Voters were asked to nominate their picks for the best five bars in the world, not including their own.

Rounding out the top five list were Nightjar in London; High Five in Tokyo; The Connaught Bar in London and The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York.

This past summer, Spaniard David Rios of The Jigger Cocktail and Disco Bar in Bilbao was crowned the Bartender of the Year at the Diageo World Class 2013 Global Finals in Barcelona.

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