Located on one of the quieter side streets of the Wrangelkiez, Madame Claude is housed in a former brothel. The place glows with red light and the entryway entices visitors with its Lynchian vibe. The bar area itself is located at the bottom of a narrow stairwell, and there is a clever array of creatively arranged furniture fixed to the ceiling, which evokes a bit of a disorienting effect. Cozy up at one of Madame Claude’s eclectic tables with a cocktail or beer. The drink menu is fairly barebones, but this place is really about the ambiance. Madame Claude also holds live music on the regular.
Lübbener Str. 19, 10997 Berlin, +03 084 110 859
Classy and upscale, Bar Tausend is situated in the heart of the city, near the bustling Friedrichstrasse, but it’s very easy to miss. Tucked below railway tracks and behind an imposing steel door, taking the time to search for this place is well worth it. They serve classic cocktails with elevated style. There is also a cantina that specializes in German-Asian fusion cuisine by personnel from the acclaimed restaurant, Dae Mon. The interior is upscale with industrial décor and sleek art deco finishes. Bar Tausend also hosts live music and DJ sets on weekends. It provides a practically unparalleled level of nightlife sophistication, and guests only get in if they are able to look the part.
Schiffbauerdamm 11, 10117 Berlin, +03 027 582 070
With its elongated interior decorated in black and warm wooden tones, Bar Zentral, located in a busy Charlottenburg neighborhood provides an unexpected dose of style and elegance in both drink and design. Opened in 2015, this place has a robust set of regulars, but otherwise remains a bit of a secret within the Berlin bar scene. The design studio Hidden Fortress is behind the setup, which was created to foster elegance, intimacy, and coziness. Drinks are superb and balanced, also oriented around classics but often with a twist.
Lotte-Lenya-Bogen 551, 10623 Berlin, +03 037 433 079
Located near the famed Märchenbrunnen, or ‘fountain of the fairytales’ in Volkspark, Fairytale offers an intriguingly whimsical ambiance, akin to the aesthetic of a Tim Burton film. The dim interior has a speakeasy vibe with detailed Alice and Wonderland décor and drink presentation. The cocktails are also fairytale themed with options like the ‘Cinderella’, which is served in a glass slipper. Meanwhile, the Mogli comes with a mix of chocolate, coconut, and rum. The bar staff are dressed in full costume to complete this imaginative experience.
am, Am Friedrichshain 24, 10407 Berlin, +01 702 195 155
Paloma is a little sliver of a bar that overlooks the bustling Kottbusser Tor. Its groovy 70s style décor in a prefabricated building of the same era that is, naturally, covered in graffiti from the outside and situated above a Kaiser grocery store. To access it, visitors must enter an uninviting metal gate and go up an equally dismal set of concrete steps. Yet, this hidden jewel has plenty to offer the patron willing to seek it out. For one, it has the true grit of an old school Berlin bar, and its windows provide a solid panorama of the notorious Kreuzberg neighborhood beneath.
Skalitzer Str. 135, 10999 Berlin, +03 061 656 003
This 1930s style bar in Mitte is shiny, sleek, and fabulous. It is located in the neighborhood’s most upscale area, near the Westin Grand and notoriously extravagant Hotel Adlon. Yet Drayton Bar is tucked away on an alley off of Behrenstrasse. To find it, keep an eye out for the dazzling chandelier in the same building. Despite its swanky fashion, Drayton isn’t as exclusive as one might expect. Cocktails are creative in name and in flavoring, often featuring spices and fruit infused syrups.
Behrenstraße 55, 10117 Berlin, +03 068 073 0473
Aspettando Filippo is a tiny nook of a bar in the Boxi Kiez of Friedrichshain. It is a calm space that never feels overcrowded, so it’s ripe for the taking as an underrated spot for anyone looking to become a regular there. Perfect for a date or even a solo drink, the interior is outfitted with vintage furnishings and there is always fantastic, post-punk music playing when there isn’t an open mic-night to dominate the sonic atmosphere. The Italian owner and bartender is warm and friendly with the patrons, and it is possible to find all the basics here when it comes to beers and cocktails.
Wühlischstraße 37, 10245 Berlin, +03 074 922 217
With its 1920s style interior, Stagger Lee in Schöneberg is a themed speakeasy bar with all the fixings. The low-key atmosphere features exact replicas of quintessential prohibition-era saloon décor including an astoundingly ornate old cash register. Even the bar staff is dressed to fit the part, and getting admitted requires ringing the doorbell. Yet, none of it feels overdone or gimmicky. Expect perfect mood lighting and an impressive selection of bourbon. Making a reservation beforehand isn’t a bad idea as this place does fill up during peak hours. It was, after all, included on the World’s 50 Best Bars’ list.
Nollendorfstraße 27, 10777 Berlin, +30 290 361 58
Basalt is one of Wedding’s best hidden secrets. Here it is possible to find craft cocktails made with fresh ingredients and homegrown herbs in a gorgeous, dramatic contemporary ambiance featuring dark walls and a green tiled bar. Drinks include things like ginger mojitos and homemade Kwas or the ‘Pink n’ Spicy’, which is made of raspberry puree, rum, lemon, vanilla, cracked pepper, and coriander. The interior is decorated on a botanic theme, and its owners are longtime friends, Kieran and Matthias, who have extensive experience in the areas of tourism and gastronomy.
Redwood is another lesser known bar near Rosenthaler Platz in Mitte with a casual ambiance and phenomenal drinks. It’s unpretentious, slightly grungy interior attracts a friendly local crowd. What makes them special is that they make most of the components for their drinks in-house, including eggnog and bitters. Their cocktails are flavorful and always interesting, featuring blends of spirits, spices, herbs, and fruits at the perfect balance. They also have homemade yummy snacks like empanadas, because at this neighborhood gem, why not?
Bergstraße 25, 10115 Berlin, +03 070 248 813