Kottbusser Tor is a vibrant slice of Kreuzberg. Its roots as an almost slum in the not-so-distant past have left this area with ample space to create, imagine, and mold pretty fantastic watering holes, waffle houses, and havens for crispy chicken-burgers. A friend to graffiti and once abandoned buildings, Kotti is a sponge to the trendy metamorphosis happening in around the area. Its wealth of bars range from in-your-face to best kept secret. We’ve garnered a list of the most divey watering holes in this enigmatic area.
This dive bar-meets-music lounge is the manifestation of what a proper Berlin bar is: gritty, full of smoke and cheap beer, and good tunes. Monarch is unassuming in just about every sense of the word. If someone hasn’t been there before, he might not be able to find it. A furtive door linked to some sketchy stairs is the gateway to this libation oasis. Their music ranges from well-selected beats from the bartenders to eclectic live music. Sitting in Monarch is kind of like being part of a secret; the U-bahn putters on in the background, muffled but audible through the windows while inexpensive beer flows on the inside. This place gets crowded pretty fast, so it’s good to snag a window seat early.
Das Hotel is a gem around Kottbusser Tor hidden in plain sight. A tiny, unobtrusive orange façade could enable someone to walk right past it, which would be a terrible shame. The inside is romantic with a hint of grunge. Various compact rooms filled with wooden tables, candles, and delicate flowers lend to creating an intimate setting. The bartenders know what they are doing and are happy to concoct something of their own creation. Das Hotel is praised for its Gin Basil Smash, which could be why it gets so crowded here. This is the kind of bar where someone could sit alone, writing furiously into a Moleskine, or a group of friends could catch up over some properly crafted cocktails.
Farbfernseher is located in a seemingly innocuous location; it could be mistaken for an apartment building. However, inside is a different world. The dance floor is on the lower level and looks up to the main bar. The interior design is laid-back industrial. Farbfernseher always has good DJs spinning on the weekend, which is why there is usually a cover, but it’s typically only around three euros. The drinks are strong and well priced. The dance floor can get pretty packed on the weekend but starts to clear around 3am because that’s when the true Berliners arrive and the weaker-thans clear out. Farbfernseher is a unique spot that borrows its bones from an old TV store; it’s a hip, slightly mysterious dance-inducing bar near Kotti that shouldn’t be missed.
Bruegge is a welcoming and spacious bar that sits riverside on Kottbusser strasse. The inside is a coalescence of gothic and mid-century modern. The bartenders’ knowledge is encyclopedic and aimed in guiding their patrons in specialized directions. They do have beers on their menu, but it’s best to order a stiff drink at a place like this. There is a quaint terrace outside with cushioned chairs and benches, the perfect city oasis for sunnier times. The staff errs on the ultra friendly side, which in addition to the excellent boozy drinks, keeps the clientele at this lovely bar loyal.
For those in search of an authentic grungy dive bar, look no further. Not everyone can stomach the amount of dive in a choice dive bar, but hey, this is Berlin. This no fuss or frills establishment mixes punk and pirate themed decorations as their interior aesthetic are kitschy without effort. The drink prices keep wallets heavy, and the atmosphere is do-what-you-want. It’s the consummate amalgamation of Berlin’s bar spirit: the gritty, the nonchalance, and the surprisingly friendly. Trinkteufel is a bar to start the night off with or stumble to at four in the morning to interact with the other night owls or just mumble to your inebriated self. Rumor has it that there are sometimes french bull dogs roaming around; be polite and offer one of them a drink.
Roses Bar is a celebratory gay bar with lots of funk and no apologies. This place attracts a highly eclectic crowd making people-watching an extra treat. The interior is ostentatious and trippy, with disco balls, furry pink walls, and arcane decorations. Roses Bar usually pumps ’80’s tunes, which make room for a lot of full-body dancing and sing alongs. This place is applauded for its wild, one-of-a-kind atmosphere. It’s hard to find another place like it. Heavy on the quirk, Roses Bar is an experience to say the least. It’s not the place to come for claustrophobes as it can be swarming with people on the weekend. Maybe it’s the idiosyncratic interior or the help from all the insanely cheap drinks that make Roses Bar so appealing; either way, it’s a bar vibe that’s hard to replicate.