The Swiss Alps conjure up many images—five-star chalets, snow-covered peaks, St. Bernards and their cute collar barrels. We have one more to add to the list: great bars. With a steady influx of moneyed international tourists and a world-famous après-ski party scene, the small mountain towns of the Alps are home to some of the best beer, wine and spirit programs in all of Europe. Bring on your next high-altitude holiday.
The five-star Carlton Hotel, in the posh mountain town of St. Moritz, is one of the nicest hotels in the Alps. No stay here is complete without a trip to the Carlton Bar & Lobby for a quiet drink by the fireplace, the perfect spot to ponder the breathtaking mountains rising above you on all sides. The tightly curated cocktail menu covers the classics: the Suffering Bastard (Beefeater gin, Carlos I brandy, ginger beer, sugar and lime juice), a Mai Tai (made with Coruba Cigar 12-year-old rum) and a no-nonsense Whiskey Smash (mixed with Old Grand-Dad bourbon). And if you’re looking to pick up even more reward points on your credit card, have a field day with its wide selection of rare sipping spirits, including L’OR de Jean Martell cognac, Glenmorangie Pride 1981 scotch and Havana Club Máximo extra añejo rum.
Just a short walk away from the Carlton sits the Hotel Waldhaus am See, home to Devil’s Place whiskey bar and its legendary collection of brown spirits. There are more than 2,500 bottles here, making it one of the largest selections in the world. (In fact, it has an entry in The Guinness Book of World Records.) Some bottles date back a century, from every region of the whiskey world. If you have some time to kill, and a healthy bar budget, take a shot at getting your picture on the Whisky Academy Hall of Fame. You simply have to sample from 100 different labels!
Start at the bottom! The Basement, located in the basement of the sumptuous Tschuggen Grand Hotel, is a good, casual first stop. Load up on Switzerland’s version of bar snacks, like the fondue burger, and the signature Basement Milk, made with apple, vanilla, Frangelico liqueur and Havana Club three-year-old rum, before moving on to sample the excellent local beers from Arosabräu. Standouts include the light and drinkable Kirchlibräu and the creamy Schanfigger Häx stout. Finish things off with a glass of house schnapps, made with herbs picked from the mountains just outside the hotel windows.
On the lobby level of Tschuggen Grand Hotel is Tschuggen Bar, a cozy-meets-classy lounge where you’ll find an entire menu dedicated to rum cocktails. The drink selection is broken down into categories, ranging from classics and Juleps to hangover cures and Mules. Not in the mix for a mixer? Check out the deep whiskey list, which includes rarities like Mosstowie 1979 scotch or Adelphi Limited Lochside Sherry Wood 1965 scotch but also a few shining examples of Swiss whiskeys made in the style of scotch, such as Interlaken Swiss Highland single malt.