It has been a while since the days when 4 Tiere Bar was a well-kept secret. Its positive reviews and awards speak volumes about the establishment. Andreas Kloke and Xu Kunming have a genuine passion for being hosts – they have turned their bar into a hotspot for gin connoisseurs and discerning drinkers who want to enjoy a cocktail in an easygoing atmosphere.
The act of seeking out a gin bar in the cold light of morning might sound a little strange to some. Andreas Kloke and Xu Kunming greet me in 4 Tiere Bar. The two owners don’t make a habit of being at their establishment so early, but it’s the perfect time of day for a private conversation. Andreas offers me a mineral water instead of one of their famed gin creations.
Seated comfortably in an armchair, I marvel at the ranks of gin bottles standing on the shelves. I imagine how the cosy bar’s patrons must feel in the evening, envisage cocktails and gin drinks being slid over the counter, and can almost hear the laughter and lively conversation going on all around.
The bar’s unusual name is a topic that pops up regularly in conversation.
The bar’s unusual name is a topic that pops up regularly in conversation. It comes from the four predecessors who founded 4 Tiere Bar as a wine bar. When Andreas and Xu had the chance to take over the bar – located close to Bäckeranlage park – at the end of 2016, they decided to stick with the name. But they tweaked the concept: they cleared out all the wine bottles and created a cosy, sophisticated gin paradise.
Patrons of the 4 Tiere Bar appreciate the quality and good service. For many years, Andreas and Xu managed cocktail bars at some of the most prestigious 5-star hotels in Europe. The two of them met while working at the Kameha Grand hotel. Before long, they bade goodbye to their life of wild nights in ritzy hotel bars. They took with them their high standards of service and excellent connections with various catering groups and hotel chains. These contacts have led, for example, to Andreas creating a house gin for Clouds, a fine dining restaurant overlooking Zurich from its location at the top of the Prime Tower.
For many years, Andreas and Xu managed cocktail bars at some of the most prestigious 5-star hotels in Europe.
The owners found it easy to make the switch from grand hotel bars to their own small place. The timing was perfect too. For Xu, an English speaker, the way everything came together was serendipitous. While on a trip a few months ago, he found himself sitting in a tiny restaurant bar in Tokyo. He was immediately struck by the special atmosphere and the passionate owner, who had managed the bar for more than 35 years. Xu visited the bar every day, spoke to the owner and watched how he interacted freely with his guests.
One evening, while Xu was talking to his wife, he realised this was exactly what he wanted as well: to be a passionate host in a small, cosy bar serving a clutch of regular patrons. A little while later, Andreas called to say he’d found a great place for them. ‘We feel right at home in the neighbourhood. Having an address here is truly a stroke of luck. All around us are boutique stores, local shops with quality products, inspiring interior design and furniture outlets and popular restaurants,’ states Andreas.
‘We feel right at home in the neighbourhood. Having an address here is truly a stroke of luck.’
4 Tiere Bar is small, with seating for just 35 people inside. This is exactly what the guests like about the place – the cosy atmosphere, the personal touch and the high level of service so uncommon in a bar of this kind. Andreas and Xu are always on the premises. The passion they both have for the place immediately shines through, as does their belief in the importance of actually interacting with their guests. The faces of both men come alive when talking about gin and the sensational world of cocktail bars. They tell stories about the gins they have personally selected from distilleries all over the world. ‘We have an anecdote we could tell for every one of the 330 bottles of gin on the shelves behind us.’
Number of bottles of gin on the shelves at 4 Tiere Bar
There’s one final thing I want to know: what makes gin so special? ‘Real gin should always be based on neutral alcohol, juniper berries and at least one botanical. There are no rules on which concentrations to use,’ explains Andreas. Producers can give their creativity free rein by adding ingredients such as berries or herbal essences: ‘That’s the special thing about gin – the flavours and aromas you can coax from it are virtually endless.’