Plan the ultimate Berlin bar crawl with this itinerary
Berlin’s techno scene is legendary, but there is more to the German capital than all-night raves. After dark, the city sizzles with a late-night bar scene that leaves most other cities for dead. Dive down hip neighbourhood streets to discover a world of hidden speakeasies, gritty rock dens, retro lounges and upmarket cocktail bars. Bring cash and prepare to see in the dawn. It’s wunderbar.
Galleries and thrift shops, urban gardens and street-food trucks make up this popular counter-culture neighbourhood.
Ring in the excesses of Berlin’s golden age at this burlesque bolthole. Behind the unassuming doorway is a hedonistic bar oozing 1920s glamour. Hipster bartenders wear bow ties and the cocktail list sings of sassy ingenuity, like the saucy Rita Lynch, a cheeky mix of Patron, Grand Marnier, lime and house-made tomato jam. On Saturdays, the smoky den is transformed into a sexy burlesque club. Don your best flapper dress and mingle.
A visit to this retro lounge is like a step back in time to a ’70s East German living room. A vintage record player spins crooning tunes (think Dean Martin, Blondie, Bowie and more), and table lamps give off a soft orange glow. The drinks list champions classic cocktails (the margarita is good) as well as local beers and spirits, mixed to your liking by the affable bartender. Find a cosy corner and settle in for the night.
Art and thrift shops, overgrown parks and laidback bars are part of Little Istanbul’s edgy vibe.
Natural wine is the star at this local haunt. It’s the spot for good European wines and a team that really knows their grapes. Murals of wild and wondrous beasts are splashed across the walls (a homage to children’s book Where the
Wild Things Are) and French oak barrels double as tables. The share-plate menu is fun, with hits like seaweed popcorn, ‘iodine shot’ oysters and charcuterie boards. Before leaving, hunt out the secret mezcal bar.
Berlin’s best sunset spot is also its most surprising – a community garden and bar on top of the car park at Neukölln Arcade (take the lift to the fifth floor and walk up the ramp). Large metal flowers tower above garden beds and there is a sandpit for little ones to play. Inside the ready-made structure are DJs, live music and comfy lounges. There is bar food, cocktails and wine by the glass. Arrive early to nab a prime spot.
Streetside cafes, pre-war buildings and vintage boutiques create charm in this upmarket neighbourhood.
Dive bars don’t come much cooler. Inside this post-punk rock den, black and white video flashes across black walls and there are plenty of dingy nooks in which to hang. On weekends, DJs spin a solid mix of punk, new wave and glam rock. Drinks are cheap and the fun kicks on until dawn.
Sophistication and glamour meet old-world charm in Berlin’s leafy art district.
BUCK AND BRECK
Good things come in small packages at this exclusive speakeasy. Hidden behind an old shopfront (find the buzzer!), the secret spot seats just 14 people.
Gin, whisky or brandy-based cocktails are the go, but there is also Champagne, plus off-menu cocktails. Arrive early to ensure a spot.
There’s style in spades at this cocktail bar. Located in the former Jüdische Mädchenschule (Jewish girls' school), the art-deco spot is the place for top-notch cocktails (try the apple-y Hole in Normandy) and Michelin-star bar food to match. Part of fine-diner Pauly Saal, it’s one of Berlin’s more elegant drinking holes.
Behind a grimy exterior – find the iron door under the rail viaduct – is a smoky prohibition bar with cool cocktails (try the Wasabi) and live jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop. It’s a little like being inside a train carriage, but one that’s swanky and oh-so-glam. A Peruvian-fusion restaurant adjoins the bar. Dress sharp for entry.
Belinda Luksic travelled to Berlin as a guest of tfehotels.com