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Rum Trader
© Camille BlakeBest bars in Berlin: Rum Trader

The 11 best bars in Berlin

Speakeasy date or dive bar pre-drinks? Whatever the occasion, the best bars in Berlin more than live up to the hype

Written by
Anna Geary-Meyer
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The best bars in Berlin are among the best bars found anywhere on the planet. There, we said it. Can we go out now? Let’s go! Berlin is one of the world’s great nightlife cities, a hedonistic haven of thrilling diversity and parties that never quit. Whether you want glitzy cocktail bars or dive pubs that haven’t changed in decades, you’ll find them. You’ll love it.

Berlin is a city that lives up to its hype. The restaurant scene is second to none, the galleries are elite, and the markets are magnificent. The bars? Every bit as awesome as you assume. You’ll struggle to find a bad bar in Berlin, but these deserve extra attention.

Best bars in Berlin

Becketts Kopf
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Prenzlauer Berg

This long-running cocktail bar is an oasis of fine drink in the sparsely served Prenzlauer Berg. It follows the classic speakeasy model; enter via an unmarked door and find yourself in rooms draped in red velvet. Settle back on the chesterfield sofas and enjoy the fresh air of the no-smoking room – a relative rarity on Berlin’s bar scene. Try the Aviation, a paean to the classier days of air travel: a florid mix of gin, violet, maraschino and lemon. A grizzled portrait of playwright Samuel Beckett – not averse to a drink himself – keeps watch over proceedings.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Beyond the centre

From striking wooden panelling to Victorian curios dotted along the bar and an esoteric toilet, the attention to detail in the décor is reason enough to come here. The speciality is infused alcohols, shots of which are poured from a giant bottle at the bar or mixed into house cocktails, such as the Geist Russian, a rich blend of vodka infused with vanilla, cinnamon, Kahlúa and cream. The weekend brunch features huevos rancheros, chicken with waffles and fabulous Bloody Marys, but you’ll need to get there early.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Mitte

Down a backstreet off Torstrasse, this cosy bar is a favourite of Mitte media types. With a large horseshoe-shaped bar dominating the room, it’s bar stools or standing only, as this place seriously packs out with a slick, bespectacled clientele and the occasional actor or celebrity. The house wine is excellent. Alternatively, try the Kölsch beer from Cologne – tradition dictates that it’s served in a tiny glass, constantly refilled by the barman until you abandon it half-full or lay a beer mat over the top.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Kreuzberg

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but this sultry boozer is named after Luis Buñuel’s absurdist masterpiece The Exterminating Angel, in which a group of bourgeois worthies find themselves inexplicably unable to leave a lavish dinner party. The smartly dressed waiting staff, glass-latticed ceiling and leather booths evoke an old-world sensibility, but despite the glamour, it’s accessibly priced.

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A vast 1960s estate housing a majority of Turkish families is also home to Möbel Olfe, an always-packed alternative gay bar. Old chairs are glued to the ceiling in a cheeky nod to the space’s original function as a furniture shop. Thursdays really get pumping – you often see a foggy mass of bodies pressed against the windows on either side of the building – while Tuesdays are more for the ladies (though all are welcome any night). 

This is a proper German pub: nine beers on tap, bizarre house schnapps – tiramisu liqueur, anyone? – and dirt-cheap prices for the area. If you get tipsy, there are plenty of Schmalz-based (lard) treats to bring you back to earth. Come early for a massive plate of Wiener Schnitzel or sausage, and stay until late.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Neukölln

This dive bar just off Kottbusser Damm is a particularly eccentric example of a Berlin Kneipe (pub), decorated with dolls, old bicycles and instruments. It’s usually rammed all day, with rowdy characters propping up the bar or hammering away at the table football. Naturally, the beer is both cheap and plentiful.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Mitte

Behind an actual green door (ring the bell for entry), you’ll find this popular cocktail bar, attracting a solid crowd of upmarket regulars and booze tourists on the Berlin quality cocktail trail. Inside it’s quietly classy with a touch of kitsch. The impressive drinks menu showcases spirit-based mixology at its best and includes the house Green Door cocktail, a refreshing mix of champagne, lemon, sugar and mint.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Schöneberg

Subtitled the ‘Institute for Advanced Drinking’, this tiny bar is a Berlin classic, thanks to its eccentric owner, Gregor Scholl, who is always present and smartly dressed in a bow tie and waistcoat. There’s no menu: Scholl will ask which spirit you like and whether you want something ‘süss oder sauer’ (sweet or sour). Don’t waste his time (or talent) by asking for a mojito. Hugely atmospheric and with room for only 15, Rum Trader is best avoided if you’re on a budget.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Neukölln

Café by day and bar by night, the nautically themed Ankerklause has firmly resisted the temptation to gentrify itself, despite its enviable location, with balcony seating hanging over the canal. The coffee is average, and you might want to avoid drinking too much house wine, Château Migraine, but the breakfasts and cakes are hearty and moreish. Give market days (Tuesdays and Fridays) a miss – it’s always rammed.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Kreuzberg

Whatever state you’re in (the more of a state, the better), you’ll fit in just fine at this boisterous den of glitter and furry walls. Roses draws customers of all sexual preferences, who mix and mingle and indulge in excessive drinking. No place for the uptight, always full, and very Kreuzberg-ish.

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