With its ancient purity laws and vast number of breweries, Germany vies with Belgium to be crowned king of European beer. Wedded to Berlin’s barely-there licensing laws and the hard-living character of its residents, the city is dripping with places to drink, from big beer halls to crusty punk dives and plush hotel cocktail bars.
This Berlin mainstay comes into its own during the summer months, when the roof terrace is truly glorious. The club’s dance floor is situated on the 13th floor of a Soviet block in Alexanderplatz and the sight from the windows of the skyline and lights of the city twinkling beneath is spectacular enough – but the effect is magnified when you head up to the roof. With cool fittings and a ceiling of stars, this should be a first port of call for newcomers to the city.
Weekend Rooftop, Alexanderplatz 5, 10178 Berlin (030 2463 1676, www.week-end-berlin.de). U5, U8, U2, S-bahn Alexanderplatz. Open 9am-open end daily (weather dependant).
Head to the TV Tower, built by the DDR as a show of secular strength, for drinks with a supreme view. Contained within the enormous silver ball at the top is a restaurant and fully stocked bar that offer up a splendid panorama of the city, as well as the usual classic drinks. And there’s no need to move from your stool, as the restaurant makes a full 360-degree rotation every 30 minutes.
Fernsehturm, Panoramastrasse 1a, 10178 Berlin (030 2475 750, www.tv-turm.de). U2, U5, U8, S-bahn Alexanderplatz. Open Mar-Oct 9am-midnight daily; Nov-Feb 10am-midnight daily.
Lounge in Turm
The imposing square of Frankfurter Tor heralds the beginning of Karl-Marx-Allee, the giant road heading east, and is one of the city’s most significant examples of the grand uniformity of Stalinist architecture. Within the vast building complex, this elegant bar sits atop one of the domed towers and is often hired for corporate events or parties. Sip a dry Martini from the balcony and imagine the glory of the Soviet dream as you look eastwards.
Lounge in Turm, Frankfurter Tor 9, 10243 Berlin (030 2647 6759 , www.lounge-im-turm.de). U5 Frankfurter Tor. Open by appointment.
Located in a backstreet off Torstraße, this cosy bar is a favourite of media types prowling the streets of Mitte. With a large horseshoe shaped bar dominating the centre, it's bar stools or standing only, as this place seriously packs out with slick, bespectacled clientele and the occasional actor or celebrity. The house wine is very good and one to try is the Kölsch beer from Cologne – tradition dictates that it is served in a tiny glass, refilled by the barman until you abandon it half full or lay a beer mat over the top.
Bar 3, Weydingerstraße 20, 10178 Berlin (030 9700 5106). U2 Rosa-Luxembourg Platz. Open 9pm-late Tue-Sat.
A favourite of the Berlin club kids, this Kreuzberg spot gets pretty rowdy on weekends as a launching pad for a session out partying. The bar is decorated with bizarre bric-a-brac and serves up a standard drinks menus. There is plenty of seating, but the best tables are at the front, to see and be seen; on hot days they open out the front windows and it’s a great place to watch the freaky denizens of Kreuzberg go about their business.
Luzia, Oranienstraße 34, 10999 Berlin (030 8179 9958, www.luzia.tc). U5, U8 Kottbusser Tor. Open 10am-3am daily.
This ultra modern bar, housed in the old Czech Airlines building, has the feel of futurist airport lounge depicted from the 1970s. The angular furniture and white plastic fittings contrast magnificently with its crusty Friedrichshain location and the concrete sweep of Karl Marx Allee. The place is usually very relaxed and frequented by more design-conscious crowd, enjoying the excellent drink selection and dishes of roasted almonds.
CSA Bar, Karl Marx Allee 96, 10243 Berlin (030 2904 4741, www.csa-bar.de). U5 Weberweise. Open 7pm-open end daily.
Situated in the so-called ‘SoTo’ area, or south of Torstraße, this bar serves a superior grade of cocktail. It is mostly populated by the local hip mafia, who come here for further libations after the rounds of art openings. It can get very smoky, reflecting the buzz inside.
Neue Odessa, Torstraße 89, 10119 Berlin (0171 839 8991, www.neueodessabar.de). U8 Rosenthaler Platz. Open 7pm-close daily.
The rapid spread of DIY living room bars through Neukölln’s Weserstraße area is a recent phenomenon, and Tier is one of the more grown up affairs. Its low-slung vintage fittings and soft lighting provide the perfect environment for those seeking more intimate surroundings. Their cocktails are potent and they have a rotating menu, recommending new twists on old classics.
Tier, Weserstraße 42, 12045 Berlin. U7 Rathaus Neukölln. Open 7pm-open end daily.
Prenzlauer Berg’s nightlife options have quietened down in the past few years as young families pour into the leafy streets, but this old haunt has remained a barfly’s favourite. Their superb barmen will knock up anything to order, with a vast selection of high quality liquors at their disposal and all under the watchful eye of Beckett himself, whose wizened old face adorns the wall.
Becketts Kopf, Pappelallee 64, 10437 Berlin (0162 237 94 18, www.becketts-kopf.de). U2 Eberswalder Straße. Open 8pm-open end Tue-Sun.
Club der Visionaere
One of the first and still the best, this canal-side bar is a great way to find out what makes Berlin so special. Nestled under an enormous weeping willow, which is lit up at night, there is plenty of seating along the decks for sunning oneself during the day. The tiny indoor bar doubles as a dance floor with a punchy sound system and some of the hottest local talent playing daily. Hunger pangs are satisfied by the excellent Italian pizzeria on the upper level.
Club der Visionaere, Am Flutgraben 2, 12435 Berlin (030 695 189 42, www.clubdervisionaere.com). U1 Schlesisches Tor. Open 2pm-open end Mon-Fri; 10am-open end Sat, Sun.
Lass Uns Freunde Bleiben
For something a little more relaxing, you can while away the day at this friendly Prenzlauer Berg bar, hidden away on a quiet street near the impressive Zionskirche. Popular with locals, you can while away the hours reading, enjoying the excellent coffee (which comes with single cigarettes for smokers) or just watching the world go by. In the evenings the place becomes a lively hangout for local residents.
Lass Uns Freunde Bleiben, Choriner Straße 12, 10119 Berlin (030 8189 7804). U2 Senefelderplatz. Open 8am-12midnight Mon-Thur; 8am-open end Fri; 10am-open end Sat.
Berlin is famous for its kneipe, which are best likened to a working men’s club. There are many different types: some act as clubhouses for fanatic fans of the local football team Hertha BSC, some play speed metal and some are just cosy places for local guys to congregate. This dive just off Kottbusser Damm is a fun example, with its bizarre cornucopia of toy dolls, old bicycles and instruments hanging from the walls. The area’s endemic unemployment means it’s usually rammed at all times of the day with rowdy characters propping up the bar or hammering away at the table football. Naturally the beer is cheap and plentiful.
Bei Schlawinchen, Schönleinstraße 34, 10967 Berlin. U8 Schonleinstrasse. Open 24/7 daily.
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