Secrets And Cocktails
Rachel Stern discovers the vintage mood of Berlin's best speakeasies.
Walk through any of Berlin's trendy neighborhoods and you will come across dozens of bars that beckon you to step inside their cozy interiors during these wintry months. Some of the city's best finds, however, involve a bit more of a search, recalling the illicit establishments that sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition era in the American 1920s. Often located down winding staircases, long hallways, or minimalist entrances, Berlin's speakeasies carry the elegance of another age, an exclusive secrecy, and many of Berlin's most captivating cocktails.
Living up to its name, Green Door (p. 53) in Schöneberg is barely visible behind a discreet green sign and curtains. Once you enter – only after ringing its doorbell – it will feel like stepping back in time to the '70s, with checkered wallpaper, pin-cushioned couches and kitschy framed photos on the walls. The modern drinks, however, are a series of sleek concoctions, such as their champagne with lemon, mint, and sugar.
For a more secretive yet stellar atmosphere, head down the spiraling stairs at The
Bar Marques (Graefestr. 92) in Kreuzberg, situated under a restaurant by the same name. Lounge in old armchairs or on the long communal table in what feels more like an antiquated living room. Known for its creative cocktails, the bar frequently hosts guest bartenders, a renowned lineup spanning the globe.
Dimly illuminated with red lights and a glowing image of its namesake Samuel Beckett,
Becketts Kopf (Pappelallee 64, becketts-kopf.de) is one of Prenzlauer Berg's most unique spots. Their drink menu includes everything from Irish “Writer's Tears” whiskey to Spanish sherry, as well as a selection of Cuban cigars. Those still craving a bite to eat will also be impressed with the finger food menu. Hidden away from the bustling Friedrichstraße, Drayton Bar (Behrenstr. 55, www. draytonberlin.com) shares a secluded space with another hard-to-find favorite, the gourmet vegetarian restaurant Cookies Cream. To get there, you will need to wind past the Westin Hotel by the Komische Oper, then head behind the trashcans, looking for the door with a small faint sign. Reward yourself once you make it with one of their their custom-made cocktails.
Green Door. Inset, below: Becketts Kopf.