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Griessmühle Neuköllner Freiheit

Opening back in 2011, this is one party locomotive that took some time to pick up speed. It always had plenty to offer with a vast industrial space (a former pasta factory they say), a garden that is becoming more salubrious than scruffy by the week, and even a gentle stretch of the canal to dangle your little rave toes over. So why did it take some time to catch on? Because it is Neukölln, but deep Neukölln—down the bottom of Sonnenallee where hipster numbers are depleted and the skyline is dominated by the corporate edifice of the Estrel hotel. Yet for the intrepid, there’s a whole lot of fun to be had in this brave new slightly-beyond-the-Ringbahn world.

Run by the former ZMF club crew, the parties reflect its off-the-beaten-track location: the DJ talent is more up-and-coming than headline material, the crowd is homegrown and unpretentious, the decor is treehouse-style DIY, and for a €10 cover the party sometimes rolls on for three days straight. Not to mention that in comparison to some of Berlin’s other clubs, the attitude of the bouncers is refreshingly laissez-faire. Just check the listings before venturing out as it can be pretty dead or jam-packed, depending.

Kater Blau Into the wild blue yonder

First things first, let’s not compare Kater Blau to Bar 25. Quite simply because it can’t and doesn’t. Once you stop reminiscing about mythical Berlin clubs, however, this newbie becomes a pretty exciting proposition. Spree-side gymnastics officially over, the Kater Holzig crew are back on the sunny side of the river again—this time with planning permission and money on their side.

The hotpotch Holzmarkt complex containing gardens, markets, bars, cinemas and God-knows-what other projects, rolls out towards the east, with Kater Blau as the only defiantly family-unfriendly section hugging the western corner. Classic weapons in their party arsenal—the photo booth, a wood burning fire and of course confetti—make a reappearance but now they’ve added a massive moored boat for extra firepower. Out on deck, there’s a ton of extremely lounge-worthy spots while inside, given the super-dooper new soundproofing, DJs can really do some damage.

For the most part, it’s an eclectic, fun-loving, top hat-wearing crowd—you’ll be fine so long as you don’t stay too late into the day after tomorrow when all manner of degenerates come out of the woodwork. It’s early days still but there are indications of good times ahead, albeit on a smaller scale than the club’s two previous incarnations. Alas, even ravers get old and have to take it easy.

John Muir The power of imagination featured

Run by serious drinkers for serious drinkers (by serious, we mean both refined and plentiful) and named after the archetypal outsdoorsman, John Muir exemplifies a rare breed of cocktail joint. One where there’s isn’t a mini parasol in sight, and you don’t have to put on any airs and graces either.

The drinks menu at this subterranean brick-lined bunker cuts the crap with its belting selection of hard liquors that are blended into imaginative new concoctions every month. If an everyman’s G&T or Barcadi coke is your tipple of choice, this is the perfect location to step a little outside of your comfort zone. An Alabama Belt Buckle — which blends Bushmills, Drambuie, fresh lemon, honey-ginger reduction and a Laphroaig rinse — is a good place to start.

And don’t think the ales have been ignored either. Monday night is beer night featuring a rotating assortment of 18 world brews, backed up by the ever-present legendary 8.5% Belgian beer, Delirium Tremens, available only in a bottomless 75cl bottle.

Klunkerkranich Quoth the crane, evermore!

There are fancy rooftop bars and then there are Neukölln rooftop bars. The former tends to be a bit on the stiff side, whereas the later is loose in every sense of the word. Created by a four-strong crew of Berlin party organizers and bar owners to be a ‘come one come all’ sort of place, the vibe at Klunkerkranich (German for wattled crane) is very inclusive – young’uns and gray’uns cavort side-by-side as the sun swings across that drop-dead awesome view of the city.

Sitting pretty atop the Neukölln Arkaden, 2500m² of concrete car park has been transformed into a high-altitude paradise of urban gardening and cold beer. Come six o’clock and you’ll have to part with three pieces of silver to gain entrance (if there’s still space). In return, you’ll be entertained by local DJs, acoustic musicians and dreadlocked pyromaniacs — so expect tattoos, trumpets and singed-hair aplenty, not to mention the good times.

Vögelchen Little birds know best featured

Tucked away just north of Lausitzer Platz, Vögelchen is a labyrinthine little café-bar where TLC rules the roost. The owner’s indefatigable approach to the finer details mean that almost every corner is littered with hand-picked ornaments and oddball furnishings: from a primed typewriter for the day-dreaming coffee fiends, to the antique piano for those of an ivory-tinkling inclination, or a wardrobe whose doors leads down to a Narnia-like, rentable party Keller. So whether it’s Kuchen o’clock in the afternoon or Negroni hour late at night, this is one nest you won’t want to leave in a hurry.

Trust Bar Golden decadence featured

The old Trust—brainchild of Weekend owner Marcus Trojan, Cookie’s head honcho Cookie and photographer Sascha Kramer—was a place where Mitte’s movers and shakers went to be seen and heard. So naturally when the most exclusive mini-club on Torstraße closed its doors in 2012 many a scenester was left wondering where their nightlife would go from there…

They needn’t have worried. Fast forward a few months and Marcus Trojan is at it again – this time flying solo in a bigger location that sprawls underneath the railway tracks at Hackescher Markt. It’s still that unmarked-door-and-peephole sort of exclusive, but to immerse yourself in what lies within is more than worth enduring those scrutinizing eyes—a straight up lesson in urban cool, expertly realized over two floors of exposed concrete and flashes of gold.

Drinks-wise, like the Trust of old, it’s all about bottles of Champagne and spirits (available in 0.2 or 0.7 liter) and they’ve even made the concession of stocking beers as well. If you order one, though, you’ve missed the point and will have to endure the ignominy of having it served in a brown paper bag. Because nothing decimates a hip cat’s image more than drinking hobo-street style.

Beckett's Kopf Absurdist drinking

From the outside looking in you see an illuminated image of the bar’s namesake, the avant-garde playwright Samuel Beckett – luring you like a moth to a rather inebriated end. Inside the place is reminiscent of a speakeasy with intimate, heavy-toned interiors; the windows draped in a dark red velvet. The drinks menu, weaved into hardback copies of Beckett’s plays, contains a vast cocktail selection, each assigned an intriguing name. Try the Penicillin out for size, a-good-for-what-ails-ya concoction of whiskey, honey, ginger and lime. Even the pickiest of palates shall here be soothed, as the staff are at hand to conjure up an individualized drink, catering to your preferred flavors and spirits.

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