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Flair and flavour: a cappuccino at Rivington & Sons

Attention to detail — at Rivington & Sons, you can see it and taste it. Over a perfect cappuccino served by the barista and company manager Dario Tozzi, we soak up the atmosphere of 1920s and 30s New York.

It’s just after eight a.m. at Rivington & Sons, and the morning rush is in full swing. Espresso after espresso passes over the counter. But Dario Tozzi, barista and company manager, keeps his cool. Each and every cup enjoys his full attention. This relentless pursuit of perfection characterises not just the espresso at Rivington & Sons, but the whole bar.

We let our gaze wander across the counters and bar stools, to the antique lamps and up to the stucco ceiling. The interior of the room is a mosaic of elements that combine to recreate the atmosphere of 1920s and 30s New York. For the founders Jonas Herde, Livio Notaro and Daniel Ferrari, who are passionate fans of the city, this was a natural choice. As we sip our cappuccinos, Dario Tozzi shares the story of how the bar came to be: “The three friends and founders spent two weeks in New York, where they visited more than 60 exciting bars. They returned to Zürich full of inspiration and got together with their architects to design and plan their bar. After that, they returned to New York to shop in ‘demolition depots’ for antique fixtures and furnishings salvaged from hotels, restaurants and bars.” The fruits of this unique shopping spree filled two-and-a-half shipping containers. And so it was that vintage lamps with genuine patina, large parts of a whole bar, wallpaper and fragments of ceilings found their way across the Atlantic to Switzerland. Swiss Prime Site made it possible for the three gastronomists to turn their vision into reality in Prime Tower, creating significant added value for the people living and working in the area.

There’s no question that Rivington & Sons has a very special charm. The charm, precisely, of a pre-war New York bar. And it’s proved to be a huge hit, especially with the business people working around Prime Tower. “There are any number of bars and cafés around here, and everyone has a coffee machine in their office, but some people stop by for an espresso two or three times a day,” says Tozzi. “I know a good half of my customers by name. There’s nowhere else where you can meet so many people and hear so many stories. That’s what I love. That and my craft, of course.” He segues into a brief, fascinating speech on blending and roasting, grind sizes and extraction times. It couldn’t be clearer that the coffee at Rivington & Sons is a science, and would be delectable with or without the ambience — but who would want to miss out on that?

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