A meeting point for tough lads with soft hearts: Philipp Kessler runs the Ebrietas Bar in Niederdorf.

Text: Sarah Forrer Photos: Raisa Durandi

The name says it all. In Ebrietas – which in Latin basically means drunkenness – metalheads meet to drink beer. More than 4,600 rock bands have played in the cellar, and Phil Kessler has been at the heart of it all. The bar in Niederdorf has become his second home.

Phil Kessler guides me through the darkness. There's not a single ray of light to illuminate the spiral staircase that leads to the cellar. My feet carefully feel their way to the next bumpy stone step while I try not to spill the coffee I'm holding. ‘Don’t worry. Nobody’s fallen to their death here yet,’ says the 32-year-old Phil. I hope I don’t become the first.

The thick stone walls are painted black. Countless bands have made their mark here.



Ebrietas looks entirely unassuming from the outside. The heavy metal music bar sits quietly dozing in the afternoon sun, along with the rest of Niederdorf. The sunbeams shine through the huge windowpanes onto the wooden tables. Phil greets me at the bar with a friendly smile. He’s dressed in black and covered in piercings and tattoos – that makes things look a little more metal.


In the cellar, the bar shows its true face. The thick stone walls, dating from the 18th century, are painted black. Countless bands have made their mark here. The room is filled with a morbid charm; every corner hints at wild concerts and untameable parties. ‘We had pictures on the walls at first, but we quickly took them down,’ says Phil. He lights a cigarette, takes a long drag and looks around the room. ‘This cellar has almost become my second home!’


The metalhead came across his second home entirely by chance. The Zurich local worked as a chef at Paradeplatz during the summer of 2012, when the bar was looking for a new tenant. With his then girlfriend, he wrote a full concept within two weeks. The short version: metal and beer. ‘We quickly agreed on that.’ It took them a little longer to find the right name. At the end of their search, what remained was Ebrietas, which in Latin means something like drunkenness or intoxication.


His latest coup is a beer from Greenland. The only other place you can get it is Nuuk!

The bar’s drinks menu comprises countless shots, whisky, mead, absinthe – and more than 20 different kinds of beer. Many of them are rarities from the far north – the Faroe Islands, Finland and Iceland. Importing beer has become a hobby for Phil. When he travels through the Norse lands on his motorbike, he stops off in pubs and drinks his way through the local specialities. His latest coup is a beer from Greenland. ‘The only other place you can get it is Nuuk!’


Number of bands that have played in the cellar over the last five years.

Ebrietas also occupies a very particular musical niche: the music has to be heavy. Always. Hardcore, heavy metal, punk. More than 4,600 bands have played in the cellar over the last five years. Sometimes there’s a crowd of 15, sometimes 100. The deal is simple: the bands have the stage. They can charge an entry fee, sell their own merchandise and get a few free drinks. Ebrietas keeps the revenue from the drinks.


Hard-hitting music, plenty of alcohol, rowdy audiences – do they ever have any problems? ‘No, we almost never have any trouble. Or any fights,’ says Phil. On the contrary, love is in the air. Many couples got to know each other – or split up – here. For Phil, that’s the bar’s charm. It’s a relaxed, chilled place. As he describes it: ‘This is where you meet old friends and get to know new ones!’


Zähringerstrasse 39
8001 Zürich
+41 44 262 64 60

Opening times

Monday & Tuesday, 11:45 am to midnight
Wednesday & Thursday, 11:45 am – 1 am
Friday, 11:45 am – 4:30 am
Saturday, 5 pm – 4:30 am
Sonntag, 6 pm to midnight


Lunch menu from Monday to Friday. Concerts every Wednesday, and occasionally on weekends.