I like secrets; but keeping them has never been a strong suit of mine. I like local hangs and hidden gems and I ooze with excitement whenever I discover something new. In my quest to explore my Kreuzberg neighbourhood, I stumbled upon an amazing bar: Schwarze Traube. Which turns out to be run by the best bartender of Germany, Atalay Aktas.
Tucked away on the quieter side of Wrangelstrasse, Schwarze Traube has an unassuming and inconspicuous exterior. Under the veil of night it is hidden from passers-by and all that remains visible in the darkness is a dimly lit sign above the entrance. Now that winter is upon us, the eclectic chairs that once donned the pavement have since been packed away and despite becoming a regular, I often have to double take to see if it is open.
The quirkiness of Schwarze Traube begins from the moment you enter. You are greeted with a locked door and a ‘Please knock and smile’ sign. There are no menus here. You are asked what you feel like and questioned about your likes and dislikes. With this information in hand, a drink is dreamt up from their vast range of traditional and house infused liquors. I ordered three drinks, each with a varying base spirit. I have recently developed a penchant for dark rum so naturally, this was part of my first request. This choice was met with maraschino and muddled brown sugar stirred through over ice. It was absolutely wonderful; a happily married blend of sweetness and spice. For me, the perfect soul warming drink to compliment a cold winter’s night.
Next, I wanted to try a twist on a classic cocktail so I asked for a variation of a Negroni. A standard Negroni contains gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. In this case, I was convinced to try it with Tequila instead of gin. Admittedly, I was a little unsure about this. One too many nights downing Tequila shots in my adolescence meant Tequila and I are not good friends. I was assured that the Tequila was not an overpowering element so I placed my trust in their hands. It was a slightly spicier take on a traditional Negroni but unfortunately it just wasn’t quite right for me. Finally, getting away from the heavier spirits, I asked for a fruity vodka based cocktail. Freshly squeezed orange juice, muddled brown sugar and fresh ginger made for a very uplifting and refreshing finale to my night. I left Schwarze Traube albeit a tad tipsy but feeling very satisfied.
I suggest you come to Schwarze Traube with an open mind. An adventurous person by nature, I like the anticipation and curiosity that comes when waiting for the unknown. This is how Schwarze Traube makes me feel. It’s like Christmas every time I order.