Jason Allen 05/09/70
The Top 25 Bars in Berlin
Made up of one part East Germany, and one part West Germany, it’s already something of a cocktail itself. So it’s no surprise that they take their nightlife pretty seriously. And we’ve put together a list of the 25 best bars in town…
The Green Door | Schöneberg
Hidden behind, well, a green door, Green Door is loaded with kitch and ’70s paraphernalia… but don’t let that fool you – it’s actually extremely cool. They take their cocktails very seriously, and have a biblically long list, the standout of which is their signature Green Door, made with Champagne, mint, and lemon.
Banca Bar & Velvet Lounge | Mitte
High on swank, and low on hipsterey touches, Banca bar is housed in the Hotel de Rome which itself is housed in a former bank – hence the bar’s name. You’ll find over 60 cocktails on their extensive list, with many made form obscure and rare spirits.
Stagger Lee | Schöneberg
Named after an old Missouri legend and folk song, SL is a tribute to classic, old west Americana, with leather furniture, saloon doors, and candle lighting. The cocktails lean heavily towards bourbon and tequila, and they’re some of the best in the city.
Mikkeller Bar | Mitte
For those who don’t follow the craft beer scene, Mikkeller are a Danish gypsy brewery – that is, they don’t have a brewery of their own, they simply collaborate with other brewers to create one-off experimental beers. What they do have however, is a very small chain of beer bars selling these experimental brews. And one of them is in Berlin. It’s small, cozy, and has some of the best beer in the world.
Bar Tausend | Mitte
This speakeasy is not easy to access at all. You’ll need to find an unmarked door under the S-Bahn bridge at Friedrichstrasse, then knock repeatedly until you’re let in – even if the door, or the doorman says they’re closed. Inside, you’ll find one of the coolest spaces int he city: a disused railway arch with a mirrored, curved ceiling, a huge circular light at one end, and some top shelf cocktails.
Drayton Bar | Mitte
Sharing a nondescript entrance (it’s so very Berlin) with a high-end vegetarian restaurant called Cookies Cream, Drayton boasts a darkly industrial look rounded out with splashes of gold. Cocktails frequently involve light citrus and cherry flavours as their signature, and there’s the occasional live piano act to offset the regular DJs.
Klunkerkranich | Neukölln
It’s a bar on top of a shopping arcade, and it’s got all the gorgeous, 360 degree views of the Berlin skyline (or lack of skyline, whatever) you’d expect. The drinks are refreshing, the food is Spanish, and the vibe is extremely relaxed.
Studio8 | Wedding
This place is classic Berlin: sparse, cool, and filled with beautiful people, they take their music very seriously. Except for the out of tune piano in the corner, of course. You’ll hear great vinyl spinning every night, and on Sundays they have an experimental live music session.
Melody Nelson | Mitte
Named after an album by Serge Gainsbourg, MN mixes Berlin and Paris in equal measure. Tucked away behind an unmarked door, the drinks menu has five times as many juleps as beers. And if you catch the bartender on a quiet night, they’ll bespoke a drink to your taste.
John Muir | Kreuzberg
This brick-walled, intimate, underground bar takes its cocktails very seriously, in that they change their menu seasonally and always come up with creative ideas. But not too seriously, in that they never use bizarre ingredients just for the sake of it, or attempt to make their own drambuie. They seem to get it just right.
Monkey Bar | Wilmersdorf
Monkey Bar isn’t just a name. Sitting on the top flora of the 25hrs Hotel, it literally looks out over the Berlin zoo, and the monkeys behind bars. And to go with the view, they’ve got a strong list of cocktails, beers, wines, pisco, eau du vie, and some excellent bar food.
Eschenbräu | Wedding
About as classic a German beer garden as you can get, Eschenbräu is also one of the city’s oldest microbreweries. They put out new beers all year long, and the taps are never short of something interesting and experimental.
Vagabund | Wedding
Opened after a crowdfunding campaign, Vagabund is a cool new-school Berlin craft beer house and brewery that takes a leaf from the old (serving all the Germanic/Belgian classics), while also driving towards the new (brewing their own -gasp- American pale ales and IPAs).
Brauhaus Südstern | Kreuzberg
This vast brewery and beer garden keeps things simple, and does them very well. They have a large indoor space stacked with long sharing tables, and a garden spilling out into a lush green park. Oh, and lot of beer.
Rum Trader | Wilmersdorf
Phuka_7 / Flickr
Rum Trader is one of the oldest bars in Berlin, and looked like a speakeasy well before it became fashionable to look like a speakeasy. It’s tiny, with literally one table and a few chairs, and they serve drinks mostly made with rum. Tell the smart-looking waistcoated gentleman behind the bar what you like, and he’ll mix something up just for you.
Prater Garten | Prenzlauer Berg
Literally the city’s oldest bar garden (it opened in 1837), PG makes a very strong claim to being its best too. From the plentiful outdoor seating, to the atmospheric fairy lights, to the house-brewed beer Prater Pils, to the attached restaurant serving German/Austrian classics, you really can’t go wrong here.
Barbie Deinhoff’s | Kreuzberg
This LGBT friendly spot provides a visual overload of brightly coloured kitch, a bar run by a performance artist, an in-house hairdresser, all-night happy hours, drag queens, hipsters, and rather good drinks.
Das Hotel | Kreuzberg
Stepping into Das Hotel, it immediately becomes clear why everyone does this bar so much – dark, moody, entirely candlelit, intimate, and with frequent live jazz, it has atmosphere coming off the walls. Added to that, the cocktails are good, the beers are cheap, and vibe is very relaxed.
Buck & Breck | Mitte
One of the most critically lavished bars in Berlin, B&B is hidden behind an inconspicuous door (literally the only giveaway is a small buzzer with the word ‘bar’ written above it. Inside, the dark & moody space holds just 14 guests at a time, and they’ll mix you a famed Buck & Back cocktail – made from Cognac, absinthe, and Champagne, it dates back to the 1800s.
Schwarze Traube | Kreuzberg
When you approach Schwarze Traube, you’ll likely find a locked door. Knock and smile for entry. Once inside you’ll be welcomed by antique furnishings and bare brick walls. There is no menu. There are just four cocktails available, which rotate each night. If none of them appeals to you (unlikely), the barkeep will rustle up something based on your own taste. And you definitely will like that.
Newton Bar | Mitte
Newton Bar is named after legendary photographer Helmut Newton – in fact an entire wall is dedicated simply to his nudes, which form a sharp contrast to the formal red leather & heavy oak furnishings below them. The vibe is classy, there’s a cigar lounge upstairs, and the bar specialises in the classics.
Tarantino’s Bar | Mitte
Yes, this bar is named after Quentin Tarantino, and filled with homages to his movies. Expect to be served your drink while Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill plays in the background, and indeed, Quentin himself has visited with his buddy Brad Pitt. Apparently, they loved the place.
Madame Claude | Kreuzberg
This former brothel has everything upside down. Literally, the furniture is stuck to the ceiling. And what does that free room for? Dancing. Which goes on until the early hours every night, next to the mirrorball on the floor. The atmosphere is cool, and the music is great.
Le Croco Bleu | Prenzlauer Berg
During WW2, legend has it that the crocodiles in the Berlin Zoo were moved, for their own safety, to the swimming pool in the old machine rooms of the 19th century Bötzow Brewery. This bar is built above that pool. Nestled neatly among the pipes and machinery, it has stuffed animals, crocodile-green furniture, and a very impressive gin collection.
Trust | Mitte
Sure, a lot of bars have vintage furniture scattered around, but Trust might be the only one with an actual bed. And if you want to drink yourself into a slumber deep enough to try it out, you’ll need to do it from bottles labeled with the bar’s own branded bottles. Which is no bad thing – they’re delicious. Trust.
Want some food with all that booze? Check out one of the best restaurants in Berlin…
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