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Drinking In Berlin

BierIn Berlin you can drink on the streets, subways, pretty much anywhere you please, day or night. The beer of choice (and it’s always beer—though I did spy a group of possible Brazilians [there aren’t a lot of black or Portuguese-speaking people in Berlin] sharing a bottle of Jack Daniel's on the subway platform) is Berliner Kindl, not this generic bier that I couldn’t resist buying for the label.

You can also drink that green beer, but I didn’t get the chance to. While killing 20 minutes before my 10pm reservation at an American-ish burger restaurant (it had to be done) I stopped into a nearby bar and ordered the first beer I saw on tap. Only after I settled in did I notice Berliner Weisse, rot oder grün scrawled at the very bottom of the chalkboard above the bar. I never encountered those sweet words again.


You can drink Glühwein spiked with rum (or kirsch) from a little ceramic boot at one of the gazillion Christmas markets. You could also drink schnapps from strangers, but they might dose you with liquid ecstasy. Maybe that’s your scene?


If not, you’d better stick to talking, animatronic moose.


At Christmas markets you can also drink hot caipirinhas. Santa and heated Brazilian cocktails make perfect sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if hot mojitos existed somewhere in Germany, as well. From what I gathered caipirinhas are having a moment in Berlin, and bottles of cachaça (Pitu brand) were behind most bars. Good for them. In Puerto Rico I kept getting served caipirinhas made with rum because no one stocked cachaça, so no one should assume that geographical proximity has anything to do with authenticity.

You can also drink at a houseboat-like structure jutting out over a river. You can also eat quesadillas there, now a global bar snack, with a blanket on your lap while smoking in the heat-lamped but still freezing back room that’s open-air in the warmer months. New Yorkers are way less resilient to rain and chill.

Ankerklause front

Ankerklause menu

WatermelonYou can drink something called a Watermelon Man, which as a melon-hater wound me up unnecessarily. I thought it was a fluke when I first noticed it on a menu at Ankerklause, then realized it clearly a standard when it also appeared at a chicer café and was mentioned in club reviews in around town guide in the hotel room. The vodka and watermelon liqueur cocktail seems to be a ‘90s holdover much like our dated cosmopolitan. Supposedly, Bar am Luetzowplatz invented this "classic."


You can also drink at a tiki bar where they only other patrons might be a couple drinking tea and a young man nursing a beer while reading at the bar and the music is off-decade big band and ragtime. You might also get booted out at an unreasonable 11:30pm and when you order an old fashioned it will arrive in a giant tumbler gussied-up like a tiki drink. Of course, Watermelon Man is also present.


You can drink champagne bearing the name of the department store you’re in, while eating oysters. Can you imagine Bloomingdale’s champagne or a raw bar upstairs?

Becketts kopf

You can ring a bell, luck out that there are two free stools because you didn't make reservations on a Saturday night, and drink serious cocktails described only in German even though the names are all in English at a speakeasy with only a picture of Samuel Beckett as signage. You could try a classic Blood and Sand or a more unusual Scotch-based drink softened with cream, the Bonnie Prince Charles (which is nothing like the similarly named beverage at Mary Queen of Scots).  I had an apple-y Widow's Kiss.


You could drink at another serious, i.e. Watermelon Man-free, though less subdued bar, Reingold, right after eating at nearby restaurant named Reinstoff, and wonder how many Rein prefixed establishments might be in the area. I did not encounter anything particularly German about any cocktails I tried—most were very much in the American canon—so I was happy when German language covers of Ozzy and Santana came on while sipping my Martinez. Punks and their parents were welcome. And obviously, smoking was too–I just realized there's an ashtray in practically every photo here.

Cccp tadpoles

You can drink in a Soviet-themed bar next to tank most definitely not filled with fish. After a while the albino tadpole-like creature might grow on you.


And the paintings.


You can drink a Hamburg pilsner just because the label is cute. The sports bar where it was imbibed, a British chain, attached to a hostel, was less cute but maybe you acquiesced out of curiosity and to appease a boyfriend’s wish to see the Redskins game (the only American football game was Cincinnati). I bet they served a Watermelon Man. They definitely served Jager shots.

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