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Top 5 bars in… Zürich

Forget your preconceptions about Zürich: far from being a staid money pit, the city has a vibrant bar scene where style and substance meet. By James Lawrence.

SB names the top 5 bars in Zurich, Switzerland
SB names the top 5 bars in Zürich, Switzerland

Poor old Zürich. The city is routinely lambasted as one of Europe’s most boring; a last­-resort option that could never hope to compete with vibrant metropolises such as Barcelona, Paris or Amsterdam. And if it’s not boring, then it’s “excruciatingly expensive”, the naysayers cry.

Yet those who criticise Zürich have plenty of reasons to reexamine their position, and should reserve judgment until they have had the opportunity to experience a night out in the city’s industrial quarter, which is anything but prosaic.

Indeed, over recent years, this formerly rundown part of the city has become a magnet for nightclub owners, who have wasted no time in turning former warehouses and factories into massive dance venues that attract the world’s best DJs, and could even give Berlin a run for its money.

This is the real beauty of Switzerland’s most prosperous city; it can be as sedate or as edgy as you desire, depending on where you go, what you’re after and who you’re with.

Indeed, for a relatively small city there are options galore: industrial nightclubs, laid-­back pubs, chic cocktail bars, live music venues, and more. Locals and tourists can be found partying at weekends around the Niederdorf district in the old town, as well as in the streets of Langstrasse and Zürich West. Meanwhile the bars in Paradeplatz in the old town are notably sedate – perfect for imbibing cocktails if the parents are in tow.

But for my money (and, admittedly, you’ll need plenty of it here), Zürich West is the hottest ticket in town. The district has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of bar openings in recent years, attracting both Swiss and international talent to compete for supremacy in Zürich’s bar scene. This is also where the city’s banking set is found most evenings, which usually begin with an after work ‘apéro’ and can develop into a long night of partying. However, if an Aperol Spritz doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are a multitude of other options, especially at the famous Widder Garage in Zürich West. A venerable institution, the Widder boasts more than 500 types of wines and sprits, including Switzerland’s largest whisky collection. A guarantee, surely, of a memorable evening.

Click through the following pages to discover the top five bars in Zürich, Switzerland. 

Raygrodski

Sihlfeldstrasse 49, Wiedikon

Raygrodski is part of a growing firmament of style­-conscious cocktail bars popping up all over Zürich, where minimalist interiors, Chesterfield sofas and hip bartenders are the order of the day. Still, the substance matches the style, and a long list of classic and signature drinks ticks all the boxes, while service is unfailingly friendly and relaxed.

Odeon

Limmatquai 2, Hochschulen

It may not be Zürich’s trendiest bar, but it is one of the oldest. Odeon opened in 1911 and counts Lenin, W. Somerset Maugham and Einstein among its alumni. The first bar to serve ‘Cüpli’ (Champagne by the glass) in Zürich, today Odeon stands as a vital meeting point for all sorts: suits, tourists, ladies who lunch, the city’s gay community and, of course, bar flies. Try the Manhattan.

Kronenhalle

Rämistrasse 4, Hochschulen Another must­visit destination in Zürich, Kronenhalle is renowned for one very good reason – expert bartender Peter Roth. With more than 37 years in the business, Roth is still one of the world’s best, with an ability to put a new spin on any concoction you may desire, both classic and contemporary. Throw into the mix insanely comfortable leather chairs, beautiful artwork and pampering service and you have the recipe for a great evening.

Baltho Küche & Bar

Marktgasse 17, 8001

The best of Zürich’s new addresses, Baltho is already a massive hit with post-­work professionals, who increasingly arrive in their droves in search of outstanding cocktails and slick, bespoke service. Chef de bar Luis Estrada manages a talented team of bartenders. Professionalism is the name of the game at Baltho – the hosts are extremely well trained and set the standard for service in Zürich.

Widder Garage

The Widder Hotel, Rennweg 7

The legendary Widder Bar (undergoing a massive refurbishment) has temporarily morphed in the Widder Garage, but is no less impressive for the change of venue. As bars go, this one’s pretty damn special: expect a library of 1,000-­plus spirit bottles, a beautiful lounge area, live music and friendly and talented staff.

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