The queer community comes from near and far to meet at Philipp Krapf’s bar: at the Cranberry Bar in Zurich’s Niederdorf, friendships are cemented, new ones are forged, and cocktails with very suggestive names are sipped.
Our Sluts are very popular, he says unexpectedly. Philipp Krapf, manager of the Cranberry Bar, keeps a straight face. He is asked for one every evening, usually multiple times: ‘A Slut and a Porn Star, please!’ Cheeky Little Fruits and Suffering Bastards are almost just as sought-after. These are just a few of the cocktail creations on the menu here. The selection is constantly being expanded and refreshed. The collection of recipes grows with every new employee: ‘Everyone on the team gets involved, it’s great fun.’ And they are happy to be flexible: if someone orders a drink that’s officially no longer on the menu, they can still make it happen.
‘Originally, the Cranberry was supposed to be a smokers’ lounge, not a queer bar.’
Philipp talks about his work and his satisfied customers with pride: ‘The atmosphere here is very relaxed and intimate,’ he says. ‘I think you can say that we have become an institution over the last 25 years.’
The Cranberry is a meeting spot. A firm fixture of Zurich’s nightlife. Established on the scene, popular with tourists. New employees always need a few weeks to get to grips with the many drink recipes and to memorise the names of the regulars, Krapf says. But once they have got the hang of it, everyone does everything they can to serve the customers a perfect drink. ‘We always ask as a matter of course whether they want alcoholic or non-alcoholic, whether they prefer sweet or bitter, and, of course, the preferred base for their drink,’ explains the soon-to-be 32-year-old as he briefly delves into the history of the two-storey bar at Metzgergasse 3, just a stone’s throw from the town hall: ‘Originally, the Cranberry was supposed to be a smokers’ lounge, not a queer bar. But because the owners Jvan, Chris and Erik are gay themselves and it was their circle of friends who got involved right from the start, things turned out a little differently.’
This is where they decide where the rest of the night will take them.
The bar is open every day from 5 pm, except on 24 and 25 December. There is no such thing as a public holiday. The Cranberry is always there for its customers, always there for a good drink, always there for a chat, always there for patrons looking for a partner. But it’s also there for couples and groups embarking on their late-night adventures from here.
This is where they decide where the rest of the night will take them. This is where plans are made about which party to go to. This is where you can get recommendations on where to eat, where to dance, where to get a nightcap late at night. But this is also a place people keep coming back to and find themselves staying for longer and longer. ‘Many of our customers have been coming for years, some since the very beginning. I know most of our patrons by name,’ says Philipp – ‘you’d better just write ‘Philipp’, we’re on first name terms here’ – who has been running the bar for almost three years.
Once a month there is karaoke in the Campari Room upstairs, every Friday they show episodes of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’.
It never gets dull: once a month there is karaoke in the Campari Room upstairs, every Friday they show episodes of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, and there are lots of themed parties. It gets particularly busy both inside and out during Pride – the Cranberry has over sixty outdoor seats.
But that’s not a problem when you have such a well-coordinated team behind you. Philipp previously worked as head of service at the Hotel Restaurant Helvetia, where he was responsible for the well-being of the guests. The bar appealed to him in particular because it was known far and wide: ‘It’s a highly demanding job with a creative component.’ He’s already thinking about what to call his next cocktail creation and winks: ‘Everyone knows: Sex Sells!’