Whether you’re looking for a cheap dive bar to drink Bananenweizen (an old-time German tradition of wheat beer mixed with banana juice) or a smoky cocktail bar to lounge in until the sun comes up, Berlin offers an array of eclectic and sometimes downright bizarre watering holes to – as the Germans say – “drink until you forget your mother tongue”.
Once a distillery at the edge of Schöneberg, this legendary establishment became known far beyond the reaches of the neighbourhood thanks to its “Iron Lady” of a hostess. Lucie Leydicke was famous for barring people from entering and tough on those who didn’t drink enough. Since her passing, E and M Leydicke has stayed afloat but now boasts a different ethos, though the current owners are determined to keep the spirit of the place young and lively. Standing for half a century, every inch of this family business has a story to tell. It attracts both youngsters and pensioners, and on the weekends, the patrons put on a rowdy show with indoor fireworks, belly dancers, karaoke singalongs and dancing on the bar.
Run by a formidable barwoman, Kristina Näslund, Café Bar Warschau could undoubtedly go unnoticed on Neukölln’s busy Sonnenalle. In an area of cute, refurbished hipster bars, and smoky shisha lounges, this homely spot offers a welcome change of pace. With the walls adorned with photos of Kristina throughout various stages of her life, the main bar is essentially a museum dedicated to the owner. For an extra €1, convince the landlady to let you into her cellar for a very special exhibition – a plethora of wedding photos.
KLO is not for those who get grossed out easily. This one-of-a-kind toilet-themed bar serves beer from hospital urine bottles and food from bedpans – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. While it attracts many tourists, it retains the charm of an underground secret – one with endless surprises. Eat turd-shaped currywurst atop a coffin-turned-table as an animatronic poop lowers from the ceiling and a beer is lowered over by rope.
Die Weinerei in Mitte is a bar with a socialist heart that relies on the honesty of its customers. A short trip from Alexanderplatz and the TV tower, Die Weinerei might be Berlin’s best spot to get drunk on a budget. Pay €5 to rent a glass and drink as much as you want, and then pay whatever you feel is reasonable upon leaving. Nobody really knows how a bar with this concept can stay afloat, but maybe punters just feel more generous after they’ve had a few glasses of wine. The wine variations are plentiful, and on some days, there’s even a dinner buffet included in the already unbeatable deal.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Joe Thompson.