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Booze Bar Betreutes trinken

If the straight-up name isn’t clear enough for you, the chalkboard outside gives it to you in black and white: “No shisha, no happy hour, no shit, betreutes trinken”.

Translating roughly to “assisted” or “serious drinking”, this bar has no time for the usual ramshackle approach which many of Friedrichshain’s watering holes take. Since the summer of 2011, The Booze Bar’s only offer is a tailored drinking experience of personalised cocktails and a service which waits on you hand and foot. Upon asking for the drinks card, the barkeep’s response of “I am your menu” sets this straight, as they proceed to ensure that every customer is personally taken care of with drinks to suit their mood and taste. From elaborate cocktails—and we’re talking shaved vanilla sticks and sugar dusted glasses—to a simple beer, it’s hard not to be impressed by the passion for good drinks which keeps the bartenders attentive and the sophisticated boozers happy.

The Booze Bar goes against the prevailing trashy-and-proud attitude of Friedrichshain and proves to be the squeaky-clean navel of the neighborhood’s grimy underbelly. Yet there’s still a foosball table in the back and a vinyl-only DJ at the weekend; this is still very much Berlin.

Spindler Spinning golden times

With the opening of Spindler on the canal, Paul-Lincke-Ufer is fast becoming Kreuzberg’s gourmet mile. Bookended by Horváth and Volt, the strip is firmly on Berlin’s ever-burgeoning fine dining map and Spindler—the newcomer—can mix it with the best of them. The focus is on regional and seasonal ingredients—almost a minimum requirement these days—but they are always delivered with an inventive flourish or two. A homely blue cheese and walnut winter salad comes with slivers of bresaola and cherry-sized quail eggs, while a delicious haunch of venison is backed up by cabbage and parsnip (the expected foot soldiers) as well as meaty croquettes and a gravy licked with Schwarzwald dry gin (the surprise cavalry). The octopus and chorizo starter—sounds amazing but tastes less so—was the only dud on a menu that is set to change, if not like the weather, than at least with the seasons.

Though head chef Nicolas Gemin has Michelin star credentials in Berlin, this new venture is more about the Gesamtkunstwerk than dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for the doorkeepers of the little red book. Not only has some serious thought gone into the liquid libations on offer, but the interiors… oh my! Co-owner and local nightlife impresario Frank Spindler (formerly of Sage Club, Spindler & Klatt, Marabu Bar) has teamed up with his partner Karolina Preis this time around and in the interior design the dividends are plain to see. From soft, rich leather seating to a mighty glass bauble chandelier, the fashion designer has created a space that exudes class and cosiness in equal measures—one where you feel most welcome, even if just for a drink out on the terrace.

Crackers Culinary playground

Legendary nightclubs are slowly morphing into trendy restaurants. Or so it seems in Berlin. Following hot on the heels of Weekend’s relaunch, Cookies has now reopened as Crackers—an ultra slick restaurant that is set to be the toast of the town during fashion weeks, art weeks, hell, any old week.

After 20 years of calling the shots in numerous iterations of his eponymous bars and clubs, Heinz Gindullis (more often known as “Cookie”) finally took down the disco ball in the summer of 2014. In its place today hang two giant golden-hued chandeliers, and on the former dance floor is a raised open-plan platform for dining. Designed by architects Laura Rave and Jörg Schumann, it’s a straight-up lesson in urban cool—undeniably chic yet still casual—with the potential to spill over into a little party thanks to the four-times-per-week DJ sets and mingle-worthy bar space. But before that, the food…

Acclaimed vegetarian chef Stephan Hentschel (of Cookies Cream fame) is marshalling things in the kitchen, which guests must walk through on arrival, but concessions have been made this time around to the carnivores out there. And thanks be to God, because the zander ceviche with pomegranate and sweet potato chips is a deliciously fresh starter, that is well followed by a succulent slab of pork and aromatic herbs. Veggies, or sweet tooths, will not leave unsatisfied either. Combining the two, actually, is the avocado and chocolate truffle dessert—which is many different types of lush. Berliners, you have a new late-night culinary playground.

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