IMBOLDN Imbibes: Old Crow - IMBOLDN
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If you’re not looking for Old Crow, located in a back alley of Zurich’s Old Town, chances are you won’t find it. But with more than 1,600 spirits and an impressive cocktail list, we recommend that you make it a priority to stop by next time you’re in the Swiss city. We wandered in late one afternoon before it got too busy and chatted with owner Markus Blattner about how he built one of Europe’s best bars.

It’s important to note that Blattner didn’t expect to become a bartender. He always enjoyed mixing drinks at parties with friends but bartending as a career seemed close to impossible (not to mention that it didn’t have the best reputation). During his mid-20s, he spent a year and a half abroad in Australia and things changed; traveling around the country reinforced his suspicion that an office job simply wasn’t for him. When he returned to Switzerland, he got a job as a barback at the newly opened 5-Star Widder Hotel in Zurich and his dream of turning a love of mixology into a career suddenly seemed within reach.

After a few years at the Widder Hotel, he hit the road again, working behind the bar on an expedition cruise liner. This not only gave him the opportunity to explore the Arctic, Micronesia, and most of the South Pacific, it’s also where he met his wife, Petra. After 3 years in this role, he returned home, taking up residence as the bar manager at the Widder, and turning it into one of the leading bars in the country. Ten years passed and he knew it was tine for something new. It was then in 2013 that “Old Crow” was born.

Working with Petra and his old friend Jvan Paszti, the trio created the bar that they wanted to spend time in – something timeless, cozy, nostalgic and, most important, comfortable. They wanted to make sure the concept stood the test of time and wouldn’t become outdated in just a few years. The bar’s tagline – “rare spirits & cocktails” – is what they are all about. “We want to celebrate cocktails. We like people to drink and have a good time. Our drinks are not pretentious and extravagant, but drinkable and of the highest quality.”

The bar’s extensive liquor collection includes bottles from all over the world, with a focus on whiskey and rare spirits. The owners actually provided over 700 of the bottles from their own collections, a testament to the fact that Old Crow truly is a labor of love. One drink that comes highly recommended is the Nikkita, “a kind of Whisky Sour based on Nikka from the barrel, Yuzu Sake, Fauchon Tea Liqueur and Soy Sauce. It’s a beautiful blend with the freshness of the Yuzu, delicate Sweetness of the Tea and slightly salty aftertaste. Well balanced, umami.”

"Bartending is the craft of being a good host, waiter, and mixologist. One without the other doesn't work. A bartender who can not serve a proper beer or do a great table service is no bartender."

When asked what he likes to prepare the most, Blattner says he doesn’t have a favorite. “Bartending is the craft of being a good host, waiter, and mixologist. One without the other doesn’t work. A bartender who can not serve a proper beer or do a great table service is no bartender.” One of the best compliments they can receive, he says, is when someone tells them the bar feels like it’s been open for decades. After our experience there, we’re pretty sure it will be around for years to come.

Visit Old Crow
Schwanengasse 4, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
+41 43 233 53 35