Art und Weise Moonshiners

Quirky, softly-lit bars are to Neukölln what kid-friendly Bio-Cafes are to Prenzlauer Berg. They’re everywhere. In fact, if you fell over within a 1km radius of the Schillerpromenade, you’d probably land on an upcycled armchair with a Moscow Mule in your hand. Such is their abundance, that picking one to park up in can prove problematic (first world problems eh?). Art und Weise, though, is a great place to hedge your bets.

It ticks many boxes of the modern Kneipe: There’s foosball out back, giant art on the wall, and the vibe is more ‘kick back’ than ‘kick off’. Decor-wise, it treads the line between beaten up and slick, with its bare concrete floor, tattered two-seaters, and kitschy crystal-glass ashtrays on the one hand and its polished pinewood bar, velvet-topped stools, and hanging lights on the other. Behind the bar there’s a decent selection of hard liquors (including a fruity and fiery house-made brew called H.E.R.B) that get mixed up into both classic cocktails and funkier, off-the-menu concoctions. If you’re being less adventurous and sticking to the beers, rock up between 6pm and 8pm and you can get a Groß for the price of a Klein.

Friends of the place spin crackly, old gramophone tunes on quieter nights, and let loose with meatier sets of a higher BPM come the weekend. Also, despite the relative lack of space, they host a heap of live art installations, film nights and impromptu jam sessions on an ad-hoc basis. What’s more, to further endear themselves to the Kiez, they go into ice cream production mode come the summer — so you can substitute that post-session Döner for two scoops instead.

Windhorst Nineties child

In the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ world of Berlin cocktail bars, it’s not so common to stumble across a place which has passed its 15th Geburtstag. Allow us then, to reintroduce Windhorst, which has been quietly and consummately doing its thing — i.e. mixing killer cocktails — since 1999, when the Loveparade was still raging and Friedrichstraße was still recovering from its Mauerfall hangover.

It has a determinedly old school look, or to phrase it another way, they’re not going to get any spreads in the glossies where Berlin’s sweaty, slimey after dark scene remains a perennial hot topic. It’s shoebox small, it’s dark, it’s moody and there’s no exposed brickwork or faux industrial hanging lights in sight. Just a cocktail menu that makes the bible look like light reading, and a brilliantly-lit, apothecary-esque back bar packed with high-grade spirits. The long drinks get the most airtime: The Make a Mint — Tanqueray, fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit, lime, mint and Fee Brothers Mint Bitters — is a fruity zinger of a standout. Hard drinkers fear not though, because there’s no shortage of liquor-only concoctions too.

The vibe is set by scratchy blues and jazz emanating from the record player in the corner, and every Wednesday the 30-seater space is cleared a little, so patrons can get down, up close and personal, to the sounds of a live soul DJ. Make sure you look out for their whiskey sour nights too, where you can tailor-make your own tipple using an elite selection of whiskeys, bourbons, bitters, and fresh juices (and don’t skimp on the egg whites!). They don’t come around often — every three months or so — but they’re worth the wait.

Voo Store Conceptually yours

While every retail PR dummy in the world has been spewing the ‘concept store’ tag for nearly a decade now, credit where it’s due, Voo Store is a bona fide bricks-and-mortar concept. And what that means for the layman, one unversed in buzzwords and the correct angle to wear a snapback this season? Well…

This former locksmiths has been converted into an expansively cool space where fashion, art and design mingle effortlessly, as if free prosecco were on tap. Rather than just presenting trendy clothes and accessories from both established and leftfield names, the offering is more all-encompassing than that. Displays and furniture double-up as a showcase for contemporary design whereas the products for sale stretch out from the fashion world to include unique trinkets, gift ideas, and coffee table books. The concept store T’s being crossed by the occasional popup exhibition or fashion week schmoozer, naturally.

Through this breadth and ambience, Voo represents a young, creative and style-conscious scene unlike any other store in the city. Or put more succinctly: Hipster HQ. As evidenced further by the miniature third-wave coffee bar lurking in the corner. At Companion Coffee, a delicately whiskered barista will sort you out with a stonkingly fine brew as you soak up the vibes, getting high on the tailpipe of modern Berlin. Just be careful, in this state, not to spill your jet-black drink over that €1000+ concrete doozy of a table from local design wunderkind, Sigurd Larsen.

Echo Bücher When is a bookstore not a bookstore?

Dedicated to Berlin’s favorite post-Wende pastime – the rave – this is not your regular type of book shop. Reverberating between all the lines of these books is the unz unz of electronic music. In English and German, you will find definitive analyses of club culture from Berlin and further afield. And if you want to turn those K-raddled Monday morning musings from Panorama Bar into your breakthrough novel, here might be the place to pitch it, as there’s a range of “techno novels” on the shelves too. But don’t let that put you off.

Spanish owner David Armengou has created a real paradise for the chin-scratching club kids of Berlin. So if you’re interested in the past, present and future of a scene that has come to define this city over the past 20+ years, then it’s more than worth the BVG boot up to Wedding. Rewards are not just book-based either. Records, posters and t-shirts are also for sale, as well as drinks in the espresso-sized Echo Bücher cafe. There is usually a club-themed exhibition of sorts on the white-plastered walls and then come the weekend, as you might imagine, they’re partial to a party or two. Think: Local label showcases and audio-visual performances.

Between Bridges Wolfgang the curator

Despite every second Keller in Neukölln moonlighting as an impromptu creative space, Berlin can’t count too many heavyweight artists in its ranks. That said, Wolfgang Tillmans is definitely one of them. Even steadfast philistines ought to recognise his sphincter-based photography from the Panorama Bar.

Though he made his name in London, Tillmans is largely based in Kreuzberg these days and has now brought his Between Bridges gallery over here too. The Turner Prize winner wants to showcase artists that haven’t had the due recognition they deserve, so let’s hope that Tillmanns’ curatorial eye is as sharp as his photographic one. With the striking inaugural exhibition of Patrick Caulfield, which opened the space at the start of 2014, indications are good.

La Pecora Nera Black sheep, done good

Somewhere deep down inside, we all have an Italian mamma. And in this joyous make-believe world, she cooks exactly like they do at La Pecora Nera. This being Berlin, however, the chef sports tattoos and untamed whiskers, but trust us, this is the real deal.

Roberto Falcone comes from Veneto and serves straight-up classics from his native region to an insatiable Schillerkiez clientele: Think lush slabs of polenta grilled with put-a-fork-in-it salsiccia and tangy radicchio leaves, or long chewy tubes of bigoli pasta with a rich meaty duck sauce. The menu here is as tight as the aforementioned animal’s arse and doesn’t miss a step. Variety is provided by the daily specials which dance to a veggie-Tuesday, fish-Friday, roast-Sunday kind of rhythm – and there’s a traditional Venetian spritz happy hour every day from 6-8pm.

In the not so Siberian months, there’s also a wonky pavement overlooking a red-brick church on which to imbibe the aperitif or one of their exclusive northern Italian wines. All in all, for this sort of money, it doesn’t get much tastier, or cosier, in this city.

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