So, I’ve managed to visit Berlin two times more since my latest bar guide, and as always I try to visit both old favourites and the hottest craft cocktail bars at the moment. Berlin certainly gets better and better every time, and it’s mostly the small neighbourhood bars that delivers when it comes to atmosphere, drink quality and innovation – but as a non-smoker I have to say that I generally prefer smoke-free venues. Here’s a list of recommended bars I’ve not mentioned before – and remember to bring lots of cash!
|Earl Grey Smash|
The Curtain Club / The Ritz Carlton
Potsdamer Platz 3
Elegant and relaxed hotel bar with the atmosphere of a British gentleman’s club with dark wood, cozy armchairs as well as attentive bartenders who shake and stir innovative cocktails, each presented in special glassware. Earl Grey tea is a popular cocktail ingredient on Berlin cocktail menus, and here you can find it in the Earl Grey Smash.
|Kentucky Mint Smash|
A dark and stylish “speakeasy” cocktail bar inside a long and narrow space with a rather long bar top too, sometimes making it quite difficult to get the bartenders’ attention. Lots of classics on the menu, expertly made by the well dressed bartenders using top products and housemade syrups and tinctures. The soft jazz and swing music adds to the Prohibition atmosphere.
An upscale café and cocktail bar with knowledgeable bartenders and a substantial cocktail list, perhaps somewhat anonymous but you can always count on well-made libations and a moment of escape from the outside world. The Creole Gimlet adds Velvet Falernum and Peychaud’s Bitters for a nice twist on the classic drink.
|Bottle-aged Hendrick’s Negroni|
Lang Bar / Waldorf Astoria
A beautiful, upscale hotel bar at the newly renovated Waldorf Astoria with an ambitious – and rather expensive – cocktail list, sporting both the classics as well as signature drinks like the ginger and cilantro-flavoured Lang Bar Margarita and Saffron Old Fashioned. I was curious about their bottle aged Negroni, which they served at room temperature for the ultimate experience – at least in theory.
|Paloma (I think)|
A dark and smoky speakeasy hidden inside the fast food joint Fleischerei. Like at PDT in NYC, you enter through a fake phone booth and find yourself in a quite small space with red lights and bottles hanging in meat hooks setting the mood. Competent bartenders shake and stir a nice mix of classics and signature drinks.
A small and cosy bar in a dark alley, dedicated to Gin & Tonics in many different shapes (you’ll also find a small selection of other gin based drinks). An interesting version is the pictured G&T&T, which is made of Tanqueray, your choice of tea (five to choose from) and Thomas Henry tonic water. Their motto is “less is more” which means that instead of hundreds of gins and tonics to choose from, they offer a small selection of the world’s best, and it’s actually more than enough.
Another bar tucked away in a dark alley, this time behind the Westin Grand hotel. Inside the building, you’ll also find the nightclub Cookies and the vegetarian restaurant Cookies Cream, both run by the same team as Drayton. A quite open, square space with a luxurious prohibition era vibe thanks to the dark wood and gold details. The bar is placed in the middle, with attentive and friendly bartenders although constantly showing confused diners the direction to the restaurant on the next floor.
|Chocolate & Ginger Daiquiri|
Christburger Straße 6
A dark and elegant cocktail bar, which you hopefully enter through a nondescript black door by ringing the bell. Inside, you have the bar top to the left, and an area with comfy leather chairs in the opposite direction. As always, I recommend a seat at the bar – ’cause that’s where the action is! For a nice twist on a classic, try the Chocolate & Ginger Daiquiri.
|Pepper Thyme Smash|
The Antlered Bunny
This tiny, tiny and a bit anonymous bar is run by the owners of café Aunt Benny next door, and is a bit off but certainly worth the effort. Open since December 2012, ambitious bartenders Tony and Damien offer short seasonal cocktail menus with intriguing ingredients like curry syrup, wasabi paste and lemongrass-infused vermouth.
Stuttgarter Platz 15
A Charlottenburg area neighbourhood bar located in what once was a brothel, Galander is part of a cocktail emporium including two more bars, a bar academy, catering company and liquor store. The bar has a nice, bustling atmosphere with lots of locals – I just wish that the Mai Tai was better executed…
One of my all time favourites which never disappoints. Located in a quiet residential area, you enter by ringing the door bell. If you’re lucky, one of the dapper barmen will let you inside – and you’ll instantly find yourself in the 1930’s with quirky old-school decor and old swing and jazz in the speakers. Lots of tasty rum on the shelves, and plenty of delicious cocktails made with them. Try their “strong” version of Trader Vic’s Mai Tai and you’re in for a treat, just proceed with caution.
Dresdener Straße 122
A proper classic cocktail bar named after a Buñuel movie, with a sophisticated old school touch. Nothing really stands out, but the drink selection is solid and the bartenders skilled and attentive – quite simply a great no-frills bar with killer cocktails and no gimmicks, which means it should be able to stand the test of time.
Brand new and glamorous burlesque speakeasy bar, on the busy Oranienstraße in Kreuzberg. The anonymous entrance is easy to miss, but look for a black curtain-covered window – and as with many other bars in Berlin the door is locked, so you need to ring the door bell to get in. The inside is like a mix of Moulin Rouge and a Prohibition drugstore, with lots of attention to detail. Drinks are named after burlesque dancers, and are expertly made with proper spirits and housemade syrups with hints of the former bar manager’s Turkish heritage. Expect entrance fee after 10pm for burlesque shows.
|Untitled Mezcal cocktail|
The always crowded Schwarze Traube is off the beaten path in a quiet residential area of Kreuzberg. It’s not hidden, but the door is locked so knock on it and pray that they will let you inside – the place is small and they don’t allow any standing customers. Once seated, you get attentive table service but no menu – just name your poison and the bartenders will make your dreams come true.
|Untitled Mezcal cocktail|
A busy basement bar hidden below the tapas restaurant Marques, with the look and feel of a 1930’s New York style bar. As with Schwarze Traube above, the slick bartenders don’t offer any menu, but they can of course easily shake or stir up something right up your alley – provided you know what you like and crave. I was especially happy with my mezcal drink (pictured) with blood orange and tonka bean syrup which added a nice, funky touch.