All photos by Alissa Ugolini
Faced with yet another Berlin bar serving only cheap beer and bad wine, you must have at some point also imagined a Street Food Thursday for drinks; instead of smoked fish or barbecue there’d be craft ciders and special cocktails, instead of veggies and spätzle there’d be spicy bloody marys and crisply bright Rieslings. The setting wouldn’t be the Markthalle, instead it’d be in a more industrial space, maybe one in the very heart of Berlin’s nightlife?
Dream no more, the indomitable Kavita Meelu has made it happen: starting this Friday and Saturday, and continuing Fridays and Saturdays this month only (!), the legendary Senatsreservenspeicher on Cuvrystrasse will play host to the Bar Market, an intimate indoor liquor fair where you can sip and chug and taste to your heart’s content. And not to worry, bigger bites will be served to those who need a little fortification between bottles, with an additional special food-truck delivery at midnight.
With six stands to choose from and a rolling array of guest mixologists and vendors, there should be enough to keep you buzzin’ for multiple visits until the end of the month. We had a little preview earlier this week and can already reveal a few of our highlights. At the far end of the industrial space will be a classic cocktail bar where specialists like Olaf Matthey, Max Engler, and Ina Hielscher (folks with years of experience at Würgeengel and Buck & Breck) will focus on one particular cocktail every week.
This first week they’re focusing on Don Draper’s favorite, the old-fashioned, revealing it to be as flexible and rich a concoction as the martini or the manhattan (which they’ll tackle in the weeks to come). Presented in weckgläser and bringing to mind homemade preserves at French village markets, these old-fashioneds will not only be available in their traditional rye whiskey version, but also in sumptuous refixes using the mezcal (the smokier Mexican ‘mother’ beverage to tequila) and korn (Germany’s oldest alcohol!) also available at Bar Market from Axel Huhn’s Mezcaleria and Theo Lithgardt’s Das Korn.
Those that feel like a stiff cocktail might be too stiff a choice should really try a glass from the craft ciders stand run by the Kristiansen siblings. Far from the too-sweet children’s bubbly you might associate with cider, these 10 different pear and apple ciders were specially imported and selected from small bio farms in Normandy by Sydney Kristiansen (Le Comptoir du Cidre). Ranging in alcohol content between 5 and 8%, these offer an elegant and light alternative to champagne on the one hand and beer on the other. Chef sister Leila, meanwhile, will serve rustic French tapas to match these airy and lightly fruity flavors (think heart-stoppingly tender pork marinated in cider and cooked sous-vide).
Cathrin Brandes (of the Speisenclub Neukölln and our very own Berlin’s Best Bread jury) will be serving shot-sized mini-cocktails mixed with her homemade schnapps under the name I Shot the Sheriff. The nifty ones we tried had been made from vogelbeere (rowan berries) and dill-gherkins (!), making for quite the surprising little treats.
Those looking for a more mondaine night out should immediately seek out Mr. Susan‘s Bloody Mary & Champagne Bar, which serves three kinds of bubbly: Champagne from Ludes, Cremant from the Alsace, and Winzer Sekt from the Pfalz. And not just that, they also mix a mean bloody mary and crack a juicy oyster. Using a self-made and perfectly spicy base of tomato, pickled habaneros, and even beet and apple juice, Stefan Endres and Susan Choi will offer you the choice between a classic vodka blend, a red snapper (made with gin), or a santa sangre (made with mezcal). Your oysters you can slurp off the shell au naturel, or on a plate with four different toppings that sync up beautifully with the bloody marys.
Aside from the aforementioned drinks, there’ll be something for everybody but teetotallers: a wine bar with Riesling and Blaufränkische wines selected by Helen Mol (Pauly Saal) and Willi Schlögl (Cordobar, Hotel Adlon), and craft beers from visiting brewers and Johannes Heidenpeters, who brews his vanilla porter and pale ale in the basement of Markthalle Neun.
What are you waiting for? The Senatsreservenspeicher is due for renovation (read: gentrification), and the neighborhood will never be the same; much of the world-famous street art commissioned and constructed by Artitude, the arts collective that occupied the building for decades, will disappear along with the building’s silos that used to hold West Berlin’s grain reserves. A toast then to the old Berlin: Long live the spring and long live Berlin!