The Best Cocktail Bars in Berlin
Drinking well in Berlin has never been easier, with a bar scene that has exploded in recent years. Eager to find the best, we drank our way through the city’s districts and chose nine cocktail bars which hit the spot. Whether it’s an experimental drinking temple, neighbourhood bar, hotel bar, or 1990s classic – there is something for every taste.
Yes, you may have heard it before, but it’s true: no other German city has such a diverse bar scene as Berlin. In the capital city’s bar culture, classicism and progress, consistency and flair mix together. In fact, it was a hard choice selecting our top spots but we’ve gone ahead with it anyway. Here are the nine favorite spots of the MIXOLOGY editorial team.
The Best Cocktail Bars in Berlin
Friedrichshain’s booze mile had never seen anything like it. Since 2011, owner Lutz Rau and his so-called Booze Boys have been celebrating an uncomplicated form of bar culture in the middle of the notorious “Boxi” neighbourhood. But don’t mistake a lack of complexity for a lack of quality: Booze Bar offers top-notch drinks and a jovial, hearty vibe to boot.
Even a fire – the bar shut for several months in 2016 – didn’t change anything. One of the few top bars established with both neighbourhood guests and bona-fide cocktail nerds, it has stayed true to its motto since day one: “No shisha, no happy hour, no shit”.
»Few places reflect Berlin bar culture quite like Green Door. And still this bar stays relevant to this very day.«
Few places reflect Berlin bar culture quite like Green Door. Other bars have risen fast before fizzling in the fast moving Berlin gastronomy scene. Yet Green Door remains.
Since 1995, it has has prioritised the fineries of bar culture, whilst not standing still in a technical sense. One ring of the bell later, a long tube-shaped room dominated by the bar counter awaits, where denizens are served by bartenders with purpose and precision. That’s how a bar should be. Cheers to the next 20 years!
Loose radicality. Can you describe a bar that way? That’s the first thing that comes to mind with Becketts Kopf. In the course of almost 15 years, Cristina Neves and Oliver Ebert have turned their so-called “Bar for the Refinement of the Senses” into one of Germany’s most distinctive cocktail locations – with one of the highest profiles to boot.
They are radical, but only when it comes to quality of the products and drinks. Don’t expect anything too dogmatic though, because the focus here is on enjoyment rather than prohibitions. Anyone looking for a bar that offers an artistic escape from noisy everyday life with powerful, classic drinks is in the right place in this dark golden bar with the doorbell.
»The Buck & Breck was the bar that rethought the term ‘bar’ in Germany at the time of its opening. Not only because of the perfect cocktails, but because it redefined the bar as a place«
Buck & Breck
This gem on Brunnenstraße is not only one of Berlin’s most famous bars. It’s undeniably one of the most famous drinking places in Germany – but not only due to its still expanding awards cabinet. Operator Gonçalo de Sousa Monteiro has completely rethought the interior and offer of a cocktail bar here. At the central counter there is only room for as many guests as there are seats. Groups are not desired as they influence the atmosphere too much. Those who have been smart enough to make reservations or simply brought patience with them will be pampered with the finest short drinks the city has to offer.
If someone had claimed ten years ago that there would be bartenders who would go out every week to pick local ingredients from the fields, forests and heathlands and process them artistically, most people would probably have laughed. If it had then been claimed that the cocktails produced from it would also sell well, most people would have called the claimant crazy.
Today we know that such bars can flourish. The “Bar of the Year Germany 2019” at the MIXOLOGY Bar Awards is unique: every week there is a new cocktail menu, most of which have been developed from self harvested local ingredients.
Whether the juice of unripe blackberries, beetroot, cherry blossom, or fermented walnut – the Velvet team translates the local terroir into delicious drinks that could not be more contemporary and delicious. Never served with missionary seriousness, but by a charming, professional team, this is a bar you must experience whilst in the Hauptstadt.
»In the meantime, the bars in Berlin have diversified to such an extent that the respective district doesn’t necessarily have to be tagged as anything: even in Friedrichshain you can drink top notch cocktails, while in the ‘Old West’ you can also find casual, high-quality neighbourhood bars.«
‘To me or to TiER?’ ‘A Sidecar Named Desire’. ‘Only Livers Left Alive’. ‘Where is the Deinhard?’
The pin-board on the door, which carries a different slogan every evening, already speaks volumes about this Neukölln institution. TiER is a sophisticated, highly current cocktail bar, which at the same time is deeply anchored in the neighbourhood around Weserstraße. An excellent, well-conceived drink with neighbourly flair is on tap here, without the exaggerated seriousness of many craft cocktail bars.
As you would expect from Neukölln, you are welcome to come a little later to TiER, which is open till late. A menu with regularly changing, creative drinks is the cherry on top. But beware: groups of more than six people are usually not admitted.
Windhorst is a classic bar of the honest and intimate variety. For many years, Günter Windhorst’s small, hidden bar has led a happy existence in a side street off the hustle and bustle of Friedrichstrasse. Anyone looking for peace, dignity, and stiff old school drinks will fall in love with Windhorst.
The Windhorst succeeds in relying on classical vibes without neglecting new ideas, with standard cocktails mastered in their original form as well as staged with a modern twist. Don’t miss their special delicacy: the unique glasses, which indicate years of passionate collecting.
A real ‘bar in a bar’ and perhaps Berlin’s real speakeasy: the way to Truffle Pig is through its big sister, the Kauz & Kiebitz bar in Neuköllner’s Reuterkiez. The footprints of the eponymous truffle pig point the way to a dark door at the back.
Behind that door there is an intimate, elegant guest room with just a few counter seats and armchairs. Currently, owner Sven Breitenbruch celebrates cocktail culture at Truffle Pig together with bar manager Damien Guichard, one of Berlin’s most influential bartenders of recent years. There is no cocktail menu for the time being, Guichard serves individual drinks on request and after consultation. There’s a discreet focus currently placed on Mezcal.
»It’s hard to believe that Stagger Lee, which had an uncanny signal effect at its opening in 2009, has just celebrated its tenth anniversary.«
The Curtain Club
One of the most creative bartenders in Germany swings the liquid pendulum here. Over the years, Arnd Henning Heißen has turned a somewhat dusty place into a well-known place to go for the best cocktails around. When creating his drinks, he orients himself on the thoughts and actions of a perfumer, which he takes to extremes – especially in the connected bar Fragrances. The guest who seeking distraction from the stresses of daily life gets a kind of liquid aromatherapy at the Curtain Club.
The whole thing, however, isn’t just about drinks of the brainy variety. Recently, Heißen works not only on the inside of your glass, but also on the room and its atmosphere in general. One or two sentences won’t suffice to explain the special vibe that persists here. Get yourself down there to see it in the flesh!
Despite the fireworks on offer at one of the city’s bar openings, it is always important to put places like Stagger Lee in your bar tour itinerary. Here wonderful bourbon drinks are served, which can be enjoyed whilst lounging on their wonderful Chesterfield sofas.
If you’re tired of inhaling the smoke of Berlin’s bars, you’re welcome here. There is a separate area for smoking cigars and co. Who even is Stagger Lee? He’s a criminal from St. Louis of the 19th century, whom numerous musicians have immortalized in songs. But don’t worry, you’re well protected here!
With this selection of bars in Berlin, everyone should find what they are looking for. Excellent cocktails guaranteed!
Foto: Inga Israel