Twentys Cocktailbar is located at Obergasse 20, in the heart of Biel's old town. We visit Lorenz Struchen. The bar operator is Barkeeper of the year 2023. "It's a huge accolade for what I've built up over the last ten years," says the 34-year-old. The Bieler Tagblatt had already reported. Everything that comes now is a gift. The conversation turns to the two drinks he presented to the jury at the final: he built his cocktail creation "Art of a Geisha" around a Japanese theme. A Japanese gin with six unique Japanese botanicals in it. He turned this into his short drink. For his long drink "Rêves de Vacances", he was assigned spirits that he had amusingly discovered during his vacations in France, Italy and Mexico. He made a combination of an Italian aperitivo, a cognac, a tequila and a cranberry juice.
When you enter Twentys cocktail bar, you see a huge, long, dark red bar in one room. Vintage-style orange and red lights shine next to the glasses. "Biel's old town wasn't always as beautiful as it is today. In the 80s, this place was a bit disreputable. Today it's a meeting place for friends and families."
"I quickly realized that I liked it"
Lorenz Struchen remembers his beginnings here ten years ago. It used to be a shed - he and two friends took over a previously empty bar. "I quickly realized that I absolutely loved it here. I wanted to make something out of this place," says Struchen, who had never worked in the restaurant trade before but had worked in a brewery. First of all, the old interior had to go. "The walls had wood paneling of the really horrible kind with nicotine and tobacco stains. Some of the walls were painted pink," he says. He founded his own company and soon hired two employees. "Then things exploded here." The bar range grew. The bar is buzzing, especially in summer. "Back then we had two tables, now we have over twenty." And yet he says modestly "People rarely stumble across us by chance. You have to look for us and find us."
"Always something new"
To make it there, this place has to offer something special. It's not just the atmospheric bar, but also the drinks on offer in the "treasure trove". Lorenz Struchen says: "We offer many classic cocktails. But the range is also impressive with over 100 whiskies, 80 rums, gins from all over the world and a large selection of cognacs and tequilas. But there is always something new. Regulars come once a week and want something new every time. We go to great lengths to make this possible." The bar owner gets his treasures from various suppliers. He raves about a whisky importer that he has worked with for a long time. "They make sure they have exclusives in their portfolio to support me."
"This is only available at Twenty"
His own creations are also popular. They are often based on classic cocktails. A good example is the Cold Brew Taikiri with lime. "We have added cold-brewed coffee. This changes the cocktail completely, but you can still feel the rum." This drink is only available at Twentys. To create drinks like this, you need the right network. For creations such as the "Barkeeper of the year", there is of course a story beforehand. To get the botanicals for the gin, he was helped by a good friend who has an exotic garden. "I was able to get fresh Japanese sansho pepper from there, for example."
Mixologist and discussion partner
Lorenz "Löru" Struchen knows almost everyone in the old town. And even more so in this bar. As a guest, you quickly realize that the likeable man from Biel is more than just a Barkeeper. Like many in his profession, he is a shaker and a conversationalist in one. But no, he is not an artist. He is definitely a mixologist. We mix a lot of things together. And some of it gets thrown away again. "But sometimes," he says, "a new combination is created that triggers a wow." Like the two winning drinks that made him Barkeeper of the year 2023, among many other qualities.