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Neukölln bar, Berlin
© David Clack

Bars and clubs in Neukölln

The bars and clubs the locals don’t want you to know about...

Written by
David Clack

As well as boasting excellent cafés, shops and galleries, Neukölln is full of fine places to spend some time once night falls. For an authentic taste of Neukölln's bars and clubs, start off in the quieter, more contemplative drinking dens of the Schillerkiez, before moving on to the rowdier venues of Weserstrasse - the area's liveliest strip.

Open for just a few months, Art und Weise (Leinestrasse 48) makes a good stab at the up-cycled aesthetic, with mis-matched furniture and knackered brown sofas complementing the purposefully dingy, candle-lit vibe. Its three small rooms look barely big enough to hold 30 people, but the bar still regularly hosts film screenings, jam sessions and live art demonstrations.

Around the corner, Engels (Herrfurthstrasse 21) and Sowieso (Weisestrasse 24, +49 157 7287 9965) both sport a similarly home-made look, with the latter playing regular host to an eclectic range of musicians, from jazz trombonists to classical violinists - often in the same set.

(Weserstrasse 40, +49 177 4063 837) may be bigger, noisier and more polished than the cosy boozers of Schillerkiez, but the entertainment remit is similarly boho - there are live acoustic sets most weeks, plus a bi-monthly storytelling night.

Directly across the road, Tier (Weserstrasse 42, +49 178 2339 513) is more polished affair, with punters to match. The emphasis here is firmly on drinking (and smoking), with an impressive cocktail list from which a clientele of thrift-store rummagers order potent gin or rum-based blends. Berlin's trend-setting set are less snobby than most, but even so, those whose outfit strays from the nerdy chic template should expect judgmental glances.

It's hard to say whether the backing of a famous musician helps or hinders the hipster kudos of Das Gift (Donaustrasse 119). Either way, when Mogwai's Barry Burns and his wife refurbished a battered old Neukolln eck-kneipe a couple of years back, there was no shortage of Berliners keen to try out the bar's specially imported Scottish whiskies and beers (and, erm, salt and vinegar crisps). The events calendar is as hip as they come, with late-night DJ sets, after-parties for touring bands and a monthly vinyl raffle.

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