What were the big bar industry stories last year? Hamish Smith provides a guide to the most read on Classbarmag.com.

Among the top stories in 2023 were pieces on the New Fashioned trend and koji cocktails from Tyler Zielinksy, my own launch stories for 1 Hotel’s Dover Yard, The Gothic Bar at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Raffles’ Guards Bar, and some evergreen guides from Professor Shane Eaton on carbonating cocktails, using centrifuges and rotovaps. But in descending order, here are our top five most-read from 2023.

5/ A tribute to the life and times of Wayne Collins

The news of Wayne Collins’ passing in March 2023 brought grief but also collective reflection - Wayne Collins was one of the true pioneers of the modern bar industry. After covering the news of Collins' untimely death, we asked his good friend Jason Crawley to write the obituary. It was a moving tribute to Collins’ life and legacy and lives long in the memory. 

4/ Iain McPherson unveils 'Sous Pression' technique as new sub-zero menu launches

The news of Panda & Sons’ menu launch – Transcend – brought readers to Classbarmag.com in their droves. Having covered Iain McPherson’s Switching technique a few years previous, the 2023 menu’s headline act was a frosty alternative to sous vide – ‘Sous Pression’. McPherson detailed all of his sub-zero techniques in an article soon after – another top story on Class online. Keep your eye out for Panda's 2024 menu – it’ll be big and it’ll be covered here.

3/ Erik Lorincz to relaunch Kwant in new London location

Perhaps it was the long run up, but the news that Erik Lorincz’s “five-star tropical bar” was to relaunch in 2022, rolled on in to 2023, as anticipation climaxed. It was summer 2023 that Kwant launched and within a few days, I reviewed the bar, giving it CLASS’ first 10/10 review. News of this perfect 10 was another hits highlight of 2023.

2/ Bar review: Lost Property Office at Brewdog Waterloo

When I reviewed Lost Property office in mid 2022  (it got a good 7/10 pass, with a few minors), it went down without too much fanfare, but slowly throughout 2023 traffic gained speed. Outside of our Class Bar Awards stories, it ended the year as the most read on the site. I suspect that the general public, not the trade, may be largely responsible - there's something about Brewdog that gets people clicking. Now when I read the piece back, I wonder how much readers understood some of my more petty, trade-centric comentary.

1/ Class Bar Awards 2023 finalists announced

Ok, so our top story for the year you could have guessed - the news of our Class Bar Awards shortlists dropping always draws the digital crowds. The winners story too was a big traffic driver, making out top ten. Look out for further news on the Class Bar Awards this year  - the finalists will be annouced in the coming weeks, and there'll be information about getting your hands on a ticket for the ceremeony, which is once again at the majestic Battersea Arts Centre in London - this year on Tuesday 16th April 2024.