The best cocktail bars in Berlin
When it comes to exploring the fine art of mixology, Berlin has an extensive selection of establishments that range from laid-back bars to exclusive speakeasies whose door policy makes getting into Berghain seem like a breeze. Although some are fairly recent additions to the city, many have been going for decades, long before the words “craft cocktails” had ever been uttered. Whichever you choose, you can expect the finest liquors and the freshest ingredients. Here, we introduce you to several of the best cocktail bars in Berlin.
It’s all too easy to walk past this unassuming speakeasy, and even if you don’t, it can take five minutes just to locate the bar’s buzzer among all the building’s other residents. In fact, the only thing harder than finding Becketts Kopf is the walk home after you’ve sampled the amazing drinks produced here. Every care is taken to ensure they are of the highest quality — ice is hand cut to provide slower dilution, juices are à la minute, and all cocktails are served in antique glasses. The menu consists of around sixteen seasonal creations, which are served up in a dark, intimate atmosphere. It’s also worth mentioning that there are both smoking and non-smoking rooms — important to note in a city where smoking in bars is often allowed.
Along a quiet, tree-lined street in Prenzlauer Berg lies Perle Bar — quite possibly the only gay bar in Berlin that focuses on crafting high-quality cocktails. Its interior is bright and unpretentious, with notes of light jazz drifting through the air that adds to its relaxed atmosphere. Outside, you’ll find terrace seating that’s perfect for enjoying a drink in the summer sun, such as one of their Rhabarber Martinis — a gorgeous blend of homemade rhubarb mash, vodka, vanilla flavoured cognac, lime and brown sugar. It’s just one of the many cocktails on offer from their ever-changing menu and, as with all of their cocktails, made from a homemade base.
Close to the popular shopping area, Hackescher Markt is Hotel ZOE, which just so happens to host an excellent cocktail bar — if you’re a lover of gin anyway. G&T Bar on the ground floor has a classy, elegant interior, topped off with a selection of around 70-90 gins from around the world. Of course, the best way to enjoy a refreshing G&T is when basking in the sun, and thanks to the rooftop terrace/bar you can do just that. Up top, the selection is slightly smaller at around 25 gins, but the cute and knowledgeable bartenders will help you find one to suit any taste. If you don’t fancy gin, however, they also have a small cocktail menu.
Considered among the best cocktail bars in the world
Buck & Breck
Considered among the best cocktail bars in the world, Buck and Breck is one that should not be missed; although with a single bar table and fourteen seats, that’s easier said than done. If it is full though, fear not, as the bartender will usually take your number and give you a call when there’s space. The interior was devised by Swiss architects Bask and is beautifully sleek and minimal. As you would expect, the drinks are incredible and are predominantly based on either gin, whisky, or brandy. Once you’ve sampled a couple, any effort that was required to get in will soon be forgotten.
When looking for a fun, lively establishment to enjoy a cocktail in Berlin, John Muir is hard to beat. There are no buzzers or waiting expectantly to see if you’ll gain entry here; just descend the steps into this basement bar and soak up the casual atmosphere. Arched ceilings and exposed brickwork provide a stylish, cosy setting, and the walls are dotted with items that reflect its American West influence. All of the classics you’d expect are available, but order off the seasonal menu to enjoy drinks that reflect the weather and utilise the freshest ingredients.
You’ll want to make sure you’re dressed up to the nines when visiting the legendary Rum Trader, one of Berlin’s finest speakeasies. Owing to its limited seating and popularity, they have the luxury of being able to turn people away, which they’ve been known to do should you not be wearing suitable attire. If the owner — the impeccably dressed Gregor Scholl — grants you entry, however, you can satiate yourself with some outstanding cocktails in a setting that harks back to 1930s Berlin. Most are rum or gin-based, and although a menu is available, the bartender will tend to ask for your preferences and mix up an appropriate libation.
Green Door isn’t too hard to locate thanks to the glowing green sign outside, but finding a seat can be trickier, so it’s well worth making a reservation. If you do secure a seat though (like most speakeasies here, standing is not permitted) you will be ushered past the locked door and be able to sample some delectable drinks that are not so much a party in your mouth, but a full on rave. The menu of this 22-year-old establishment has recently been revamped and features classics like Aviation, as well as a range of signature drinks created by the staff. Curtain Call, for example, is a divine mix of white Puerto Rican rum, lemon, sugar, Campari, basil, champagne and black olive spray.
It’s easily the largest on this list, seating 65, yet the no standing rule ensures it never feels overcrowded
The Bar Marqués
Hidden underneath a tapas restaurant in Kreuzberg is The Bar Marqués, one of the more laid-back cocktail bars in Berlin. It’s easily the largest on this list, seating 65, yet the no standing rule ensures it never feels overcrowded. The low ceilings and long, book-lined walls combine to create a warm, intimate setting; with the sound of jazz occasionally giving way to the piano in the corner, should a guest feel skilled and/or brave enough to play. One thing you won’t find here is a menu. Simply tell the bartender what kind of flavours you enjoy, and they’ll craft a drink to match your tastes.
If you read our Berlin city guide, you might have paid a visit to the Museum of Photography, an establishment largely dedicated to the work of fashion photographer Helmut Newton. In a similar vein, Newton Bar is adorned with huge Newton photos, (nude women in heels, of course), as well as gorgeous oak tables and sumptuous red leather seating. Although you probably wouldn’t count them among the high-end cocktail bars in Berlin, they do the classics well, and the decor and view across Berlin’s spectacular 18th-century square, Gendarmenmarkt, certainly make it worth a visit.
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John Muir | Photo: James Fancourt
John Muir | Photo: James Fancourt