Hong Kong's Coa Awarded Asia's Best Bar For 2023

In a Chinese city that was (until relatively recently) a part of the United Kingdom, a bar specializing in spirits most often found in Mexico has been named Asia's best bar by 50 Best. The 2023 announcement for Hong Kong's COA follows back-to-back wins in 2021 and 2022. The bar focuses on agave-based spirits — predominately mezcal and tequila — and is named after the tool used to harvest agave.

The award is a coveted one as it is voted on by members of the 50 Best Bars Academy in Asia — a list that includes industry colleagues, media, as well as experts in the field of mixology. COA owner Jay Khan was excited but remained humble when speaking to the press after the awards ceremony, which took place in Hong Kong. Khan noted that the only plan he and his staff at COA have in response to the win is to stay true to their mission and culture by doing what has helped them reach this point. 

Beyond COA's successive wins for Asia's best bar, it's no stranger to racking up awards from 50 Best, a group that recognizes restaurants and will soon rank hotels. In 2019, COA snagged the Highest New Entry Award just two years after opening. And the following year, Khan himself took home the prize for Bartender's Bartender.

A temple of agave

Khan's passion for agave spirits isn't shallow; he's visited every distillery represented in his bar, and that's no small amount. COA boasts a list over 200 bottles long that includes, of course, tequila and mezcal, but also the lesser-known agave spirit raicilla from the western part of the Mexican state of Jalisco. The bar also carries rare sotol, a Mexican spirit made from the desert spoon plant, along with a host of more common spirits, wine, and beer.

The path to opening COA was not straightforward for Khan, whose zeal for creating complex cocktails had him working at places as disparate as the Hard Rock Café and various Hong Kong karaoke bars. During his travels around Mexico, he truly fell in love with tequila, mezcal, and the culture surrounding these spirits. 

COA is an homage to the various drinking dens he encountered during those travels. The space is warm and rustic, belying its location in one of the world's most modern, fast-paced cities. Candles illuminate wood, brick, concrete, and decorations sourced from Mexico, particularly images of Mayahuel, the Goddess of Agave.