World's 50 Best Bars long-list: Melbourne's Byrdi ranked in top 100 bars in the world

Luke Whearty, co-owner of Byrdi with Aki Nishikura, which has been recognised for its uncompromising approach to ...
Luke Whearty, co-owner of Byrdi with Aki Nishikura, which has been recognised for its uncompromising approach to creating uniquely local drinks. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Melbourne bar Byrdi, known for its highly seasonal and chef-like approach to cocktails, has been recognised by The World's 50 Best Bars long-list, ranking at No 56 and also being the sole Australian representative.

Opened by Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura in 2019, Byrdi turned heads with its use of complex techniques to create drinks that celebrate local and in-season ingredients, many of them foraged by staff.

Fermentation, smoking and sous-vide, processes normally used by restaurant kitchens, are deployed by Byrdi's lab in drinks like Splice, headlined by lacto-fermented pineapple, and Fistful of Peppers, which uses Yarra Valley peaches, Ramarro Farm peppers and mountain marigold. The list is divided into seasonal drinks, fermented drinks and highballs.

The bar is unusual in that its located in Melbourne Central shopping mall.
The bar is unusual in that its located in Melbourne Central shopping mall. Photo: Eddie Jim

"Byrdi is seriously cool, coming complete with its own lab for creating bold new ingredients, but don't go thinking this is an overly-reverent experience: you're still going to have a damn good time," wrote The World's 50 Best academy.

Along with the high-concept drinks, there are equally hyperlocal bar snacks like Koo Wee Rup asparagus with cured and smoked egg yolk, and the option to do three- or five-course food and drink pairings.

Whearty and Nishikura are no strangers to The World's 50 Best, with their Singapore bar Operation Dagger ranked No 23 on the 2018 list of bars.

Ferments, locally sourced ingredients and chef-like techniques are applied to cocktails at Byrdi.
Ferments, locally sourced ingredients and chef-like techniques are applied to cocktails at Byrdi. Photo: Joe Armao

The 2021 rankings come from a voting panel comprising over 600 independent authorities including bartenders, educators, consultants and drinks writers. In light of the pandemic, the 2021 list is based on experiences between March 2020 to September 2021 inclusive.

While Byrdi is the only Australian venue on this year's long-list, a significant number of bars in our backyard appeared, including three in Singapore, two in Thailand and another two in Hong Kong.

There were also 28 new entries on the list, including two from India and one from Kenya. The entire list spanned 26 countries, but Europe accounted for 10 of those and the USA led the list with seven American bars.

The top half of the list, those ranked 1-50, will be announced in a ceremony from London on Wednesday morning AEDT.

Located in Ella in Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne

worlds50bestbars.com