Last night I (Camper English, guest-blogging here for the week of Bar Convent Berlin) went bar-hopping with Mixology Magazine’s Helmut Adam. We visited Amano Bar, Absinthe Depot Berlin, Reingold, and Kingsize.
Our first stop was Amano Bar. This stylish bar, part of the Hotel Amano, is situated on the corner of the building and has a design with lots of grey and wood accents, like Calvin Klein reinterpreting Frank Lloyd Wright. They recently launched a new menu full of friendly flavors like chamomile, raspberry, and vanilla sugar. Many of these flavors are used in interesting ways in the form of foams and homemade syrups.
The star of the new menu is likely the new Fat Julep, made with mint butter washed bourbon. That’s an infusion inside of an infusion: mint is infused into butter, and then mint butter is infused into bourbon and removed via the “fat washing” method of freezing the alcohol and discarding the solids. The metal julep cup is placed inside a bin holding ice while it is prepared. This further cools the cup as it is being slowly stirred, and chunks of ice stick to the outside of the cup in a terrific presentation. Unfortunately I did not get a good picture of it to show.
On the way to dinner, we passed by Absinthe Depot Berlin, a tiny shop selling more varieties of absinthe than I knew existed. We each had a glass of absinthe there while we looked over the selection. The store also sells a few German beers and some small batch spirits including German brandies and mezcal.
Our next stop was the speakeasy-themed Reingold, a busy venue full of groups of young partiers. Some of them were sharing punch served in giant smoked-grey colored bowls that were certainly provided by Bols Genever. The bar itself runs the length of the long, narrow room, requiring several bartenders working to cover the large area. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for a cocktail here but I did see they have nice large ice balls and cocktails made with time and care by mustachioed bartenders.
For a peek at something different, we popped in to Kingsize, an ironically-named tiny bar serving “long drinks” (the name here in Germany for simple cocktails served up like gin-and-tonic, as opposed to labor-intensive drinks) and lots of champagne. The place was packed to capacity with chain-smoking hipsters and it seemed it was very much the place to be, as everyone was already there.
My first impression of the Berlin bar scene (this will likely change or evolve as I visit more bars) is that there is a mix of bars with good music and a fun, party atmosphere that also serve quality cocktails. Too many of the top American cocktail bars expect customers to sit quietly and talk about the drinks the entire time in hushed, reverential tones. I am happy to do this, as I am a geek, but it’s not for everybody.
Also, they seem to love hidden doors in Berlin: walk down an alley, open a graffiti-covered door, and bam! There’s a party.
Tonight we will go in search of more parties, more bars, and more cocktails as we count the days to Bar Convent Berlin!