Top five cocktail bars in Zürich
Does the lack of variety in happy hour beverages leave you shaken? Blogger Kathy of TwoFools in Zürich tells you where to get a decent cocktail.
Here's something you might not know about Zurich: you can get a great classic cocktail here.
I know, I know. I didn't used to believe it either. Sure, everyone knows the Widder Bar (number two on the top five list below), but most bartenders seem to think a Martini is a glass of vermouth, and asking for a Vesper or a French 75 only gets you a blank stare. What's a thirsty expat to do?
Easy as a lemon twist. Just check out our top five cocktail bars below.
1. Kronnenhalle Bar. If you only visit one bar in Zurich, this has to be it. Mahogany panels hung with Miró and Klee, comfortable leather banquettes: the room is intimate without being stuffy. The service impeccable. And the drinks! My French 75 was the best I've had since I left my favorite watering hole behind in Seattle. The Chocolate Martini was not the icky-sweet concotion I expected. Instead it had an appealing, slightly dry but still chocolate-y finish. Yum.
Seeing that the bartender makes his own infusions and is always tweaking the classics, I decided to skip the house specialty, The Ladykiller (invented at the Kronnenhalle Bar), and go off menu. I asked for a Sazerac. Switzerland is the home of absinthe after all. This turned out to be one the bartender hadn't tried for a while, so we were treated to an series of experiments, none of which he charged us for, because he felt none really hit the mark. The real fun though was getting to share in the process, geeking out on which rye is better, which bitters works best. Inventive and experimental. A bartender who likes a challenge. If you want a great cocktail in Zuri, this is the place.
2. Widder Bar. I admit it. The Widder was number one in my heart for a long time. Mainly because of the whisky. That's right. I mean the no 'e' whisky, the good stuff from Scotland. The single malt list (actually a small book) has to be seen to be believed. Even better, there are two-decaliter pours available, so you can try some insanely old, insanely good whiskys without breaking the bank.
But the Widder has cocktails too, including whisky cocktails like Blood and Sand and Foreign Correspondent. Don't you just love cocktail names? The list is long and inventive, the bartenders professional. In fact, sit at the bar and you can do some real cocktail geeking out here too, comparing the qualities various gins for slings versus martinis, for example.
The Widder has the added bonus of live entertainment of the kitchiest kind. Some nights there is real jazz, but most nights it's just a guy with a keyboard and drum machine crooning something like The Girl from Ipanema. How cool is that?
3. LaSalle Bar. We made this happy discovery while at a concert in Moods, also located in the Schiffbau in Züri West. The space is clean and modern, with a large glass wall overlooking the Restaurant LaSalle; the tunes are cool; and the vibe is relaxed. The drinks are excellent, with the classics well represented. The Mai-Tais went down a treat during intermission. Capiriñhas? Also great. Plus, there's outdoor seating for summer nights.
4. Terrasse Bar. We love this place as a stop on the way home for a night cap. On a hot, summer night the outdoor tables along the Limmatquai are best. Inside is a high-ceilinged space with comfortable seating and simple decor. Nothing to distract from the drinks. I like the classic daiquiris here, but the cocktail list is long and has something for everyone.
5. Onyx Bar. This bar is inside the Park Hyatt Hotel in central Zürich and has a hip see-and-be-seen atmosphere during the early evening/apero period. If competitive posturing is not your scene, you can still enjoy the excellent drinks by arriving a little later and sitting at the bar. The cocktails can't be faulted. The awesome Capiriñhas? Perfect with that Cuban cigar. Oh yeah. The whole space has been turned into a fumoir now that the smoking ban is in effect. That's why this one is down at number five now. But, hey, it's still an awesome bar.
There are probably over a thousand bars in Zürich: dive bars, neighborhood bars, swank uptown bars, wine bars, pubs. You can enjoy a decent cocktail at a neighborhood bar like the Bederbar (one of our new faves) or get your drink on at a dive-y bar like the Totalbar (popular with the denizens of a certain tech company). The Top Five above represent the best we've found so far for cocktails, but there's still lots more to try. What's your favourite?
Reprinted with permisson of TwoFools in Zurich.
Kathy is an American in Zürich, studying German and French, learning about the food and wines of Switzerland and living the dream with her husband. When not memorising new verb and preposition combinations, or traveling, she's blogging about the ups, downs and oddities of expat life over at TwoFools in Zurich.
Story and Reporting by Kathy and Tylonbrew
Photos by Tylonbrew
Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.