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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.

Stattbad Wedding Into the deep end featured

We’ve always had a soft spot for Wedding. Whether you’re into playing postal code ‘hot or not’ is one thing, but you can’t deny that something is certainly stirring around 13347 these days. And that’s thanks in no small part to the rough-and-ready charms of Stattbad.

The swimming pool closed to the Speedo-clad brigade back in 2001, but what the city lost in aerobic fitness it more than made up for in mental stimulation when it reopened as an offbeat artistic space. What began as pretty make-shift operation is turning into something of a cultural juggernaut. There are regular exhibitions and concerts as well as a street-level bar, urban garden, and weekly vegetarian restaurant.

As good as these things are, it’s the club nights that will have you baying for more. The gimmick of quite literally “diving into the deep end” to dance the night away is worth a few chuckles at first. However, it’s the solid booking and labyrinthine space that provide the laughs everlasting—a fine return on your gamble of heading into nosebleed territory north of the city. Oh and if you can blag or blow your way to an invite, the Boiler Room also takes place in the basement here.

Pointless fact for the linguistically-challenged: It used to be called Stadtbad (public pool) but since the water’s been drained, it’s now referred to as the homophone, Stattbad (instead of a pool…). Pretty clever huh?

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.

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