Top 5 bars in… Berlin

13th August, 2014 by admin

Taking the helm of European bar trends, Berlin has seen a wave of themed bars open, which are far from what you might expect, as BarChick discovers

BarChick uncovers the top 5 best bars in Berlin

BarChick uncovers the top 5 best bars in Berlin

Hailed as the capital of “European cool”, in recent years Berlin has undergone a major transformation from grit to hip with an abundance of smoky underground bars and pumping music venues, not to mention the “best club in the world”: Berghain. This forward-thinking hipster haven is becoming a major trendsetter in the drinks scene with some industry shakers claiming its unpretentious style could lead it to take the title as cocktail capital of Europe.

The latest trend to sweep the city is a very Berlin take on the concept bar thanks to a handful of new openings. From West-side crossdressing edginess to East-side art-house sophistication, Berlin is showing the industry how themed bars should be done. The obvious question is why would a city so rebellious against clichés embrace themed bars, something many consider dated and, dare we say it, tacky?

“As a means of expression,” explains Arnd Henning Heissen, Diageo World Class winner and head bartender at The Curtain Club. “Everyone can express themselves the way they are, or any way they want to be in this city, and concept bars make way for this, not only for the creative visionaries behind the bars themselves, but for the mixologists, bartenders and for the drinkers too.”

There is certainly nothing cheesy or dated about sitting in the luxurious setting of Berlin’s Curtain Club sipping on a Don Hernando – a Mezcal, fig, schezchuan pepper and lime cocktail inspired by the scent of a fig tree in one of the bartender’s family gardens.

This idea of an olfactory experience is the concept behind The Curtain Club: that a single drink can take you on a sensory journey to anywhere in the world. Despite the vintage maps printed on the tables, the quaint local trinkets dotted throughout the venue and the collection of bottled herbs and rarely seen spirits on display along the bar, the concept focus here is as it should be: on the drinks themselves.

Inspired “from a paradise of 1001 scents from across the world”, each cocktail in this unique collection comes with a story. Me-Cha’s Secret takes you back to beginning of the 19th century into a dark backroom game of poker while the saffron-infused The Port & The Alchemist gets you lost amidst the hustle and bustle of a bazaar.

Concepts of the future

It’s not just at The Curtain Club that concept cocktails are very much a thing of the present and future. Prinzipal Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s hottest openings so far this year. This early 20th century Parisian-themed bar has channelled a burlesque vibe through the drinks that Bahan Memedov and his team of experts have created.

Monroe’s Kiss is infused with Turkish delight, rumoured to have been one of Marilyn’s favourite treats, and the entire menu has been inspired in a similar way.

Perhaps less subtle than others, Prinzipal fully embraces the burlesque aesthetic with corset-clad transvestites on the door and glamorous girls putting on a show every night. Ferhat Akbiyik, Prinzipal’s owner and head bartender, explains: “People in Berlin aren’t all about late-night clubbing and hipster bars. We wanted to bring something fabulous, bohemian and different to the scene with Prinzipal.” And different it most definitely is.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Berlin is showing us how wild west should be done; although hold off on your judgment, as this place is a little more “ooh la la” than “yee-ha”. From the moment you bust through the saloon doors at Stagger Lee you’re living out a wild west fantasy. This sophisticated saloon is decked up with American antiques, cowhide leather and a cocktail menu to knock your boots off. The themed drinks are unique; take the signature Dirty BBQ Manhattan boasting pork belly-infused Bourbon working in meaty harmony alongside the smokiness of Ardbeg, or Annie Get Your Gun, the classic Margarita with a western twist.

Scotch & Sofa is stuck somewhere in the 60s with a drinks menu to match – anyone for White Russians? Anywhere else in the world a 60s bar would be considered naff, but of course, Berlin can pull it off.

Like the cool kid in school, Berlin doesn’t try to be a trendsetter; it just naturally is.

Flick through the next few pages to discover the best bars in Sydney.

For more global bar recommendations, visit BarChick.BarChick

2 Responses to “Top 5 bars in… Berlin”

  1. Arthur says:

    Prinzipal is the best bar in Berlin – never saw better staff and never drank better stuff.

  2. By far the best bar in Berlin for cocktails – their “Kinki Blazer” with Ardbeg and anise + cloves was simply amazing!

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