The Best Hidden Bars in Berlin

Berlin is a city of secrets. The busy thoroughfares and unassuming residential streets conceal a wealth of subterranean spaces and unmarked doors, labyrinthine courtyards and crumbling factories that may or may not be abandoned. It is also a city where the best things are sometimes hiding in plain sight: you may walk past the same building every day for a year before finding out that it is also home to a rooftop club. And it may be by accident that you discover one of the best cocktail bars in the city just two doors down from your flat. The variety of hidden spots in Berlin ranges from intimate cocktail rooms to sprawling rooftop beach. While some bars cultivate an atmosphere of exclusivity to mask a fairly average selection of drinks, others employ discretion as a means of maintaining a civilized atmosphere. Even more so than in London or Paris, Berlin takes great pride in its wealth of arcane and obscure bars, and while the best places rarely remain hidden for very long, there are always new secrets waiting to be discovered.  –Jesse Simon 

  • 1

    Becketts Kopf

    The name means "Beckett’s Head"—as in Samuel Beckett—and you’ll have to look for his iconic face if you want to locate the entrance to this intimate cocktail bar in Prenzlauer Berg. Although the tastefully decorated room may be one of the smallest in town, all you need is a stool or two by the bar to enjoy a selection of cocktails that range from the time-honored to newer more adventurous creations, like the Rashomon, which mixes gin and sake with a touch of cream. The selection of individual spirits may not be as exhaustive as in some bars, but it’s always well-curated and they keep a selection of cigars on hand, ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 2

    Buck and Breck

    This small cocktail bar—which recently earned the distinction of best bar in Germany at the Mixology awards—has a devoted following among those who know how to find it. Although it is located along a major street in Mitte, just north of busy Rosenthaler Platz, you might end up walking past what appears to be an abandoned shop front. Behind the unmarked door awaits an ultra-minimalist interior featuring a single table with fourteen stools built around a modest bar area. The menu—which, in the spirit of Milk & Honey, follows the "bartender knows best" model—offers a reasonably small selection of modified classics, but ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 3

    Deck 5

    It seems like such an obvious idea: take the top deck of a multi-story car park attached to a bland shopping centre on the northern fringe of Prenzlauer Berg and cover it with sand. Then add some picnic benches, some low, faux-leather sofas, some beach umbrellas and a few walkways made of shipping pallets, and suddenly you’ve got a rooftop beach bar with spectacular views of the city. Although it tends to fill up on summer nights, Deck 5 is also a relaxed and pleasingly unconventional place to enjoy a cold beer on a hot afternoon.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • outdoor / patio
    • bar food
    • dancing
  • 4

    Fahimi Bar

    The brutalist (and, for Berliners, somewhat iconic) shopping and housing complex that dominates the north side of Kottbusser Tor might not be the first place you’d expect to find a low-key lounge bar. The entrance is an unmarked door covered with stickers and graffiti that looks as though it should lead to a housing project; and the harshly-lit concrete staircase does little to ease the feeling that you are, in fact, venturing somewhere you shouldn’t. But up the stairs and through the door on the first floor is an elegant room with a well-stocked bar—featuring a reasonable selection of cocktails and highballs in ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 5

    Klunkerkranich

    Step into the large, nondescript Neukölln Arkaden shopping centre, find the elevator and ride it up to the top floor of the car park. Then walk through the empty parking area toward the circular exit ramp in the centre. Follow the chalk arrows on the ground if you get lost. Pay the cover charge—usually no more than €3—and walk up the circular ramp, where you're confronted with a ramshackle wooden village scavenged from the props department of Gilligan’s Island. While not explicitly beach-themed like its cross-town carpark rival Deck 5 – there is a small sandbox, but that’s mostly for the kids who accompany their ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • dancing
    • day drinking
  • 6

    Bar Marqués

    The tapas-themed Restaurant Marqués, located in Kreuzberg’s Graefekiez, isn’t exactly hidden, but you might not suspect that its basement contains a small, very civilized cocktail bar. However the cosy Bar Marqués, with its waistcoated bartender and low-lit décor, is a pearl of refinement hiding in a once-edgy, now middle class residential neighborhood. Just don’t ask for a menu; there isn’t one. The bartender is your friend here. Let him know what you like and he'll mix you something to your liking.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 7

    Monkey Bar

    One of the newest rooftop hotspots in Berlin, the Monkey Bar is attached to the 25hours Hotel and next to Bikini (the city’s newest shopping experience). Rum is the focus of their cocktail menu—most of their signature concoctions are best described as new-wave tiki—although they also have a number of intriguing variations on the classic gin and tonic. But the real reason to visit the Monkey bar is the roof terrace, which offers unparalleled views of Breitscheidplatz—home of the iconic, half-destroyed Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Church—to the south, and the treetops of the Tiergarten to the north. One of the best places ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • dancing
    • craft cocktails
    • outdoor / patio
    • tiki
    • lots of rum
  • 8

    Rum Trader

    Rum Trader is one of Berlin’s oldest cocktail bars, and certainly among its most legendary. A speakeasy before speakeasies came back into fashion, the bar does almost nothing to announce its presence to the residential street on which it’s located. Even if you know where to go, you might not gain admittance to the very intimate barroom area. (Dressing up will help.) If they have space for you—there can’t be room for more than 20 or 30 people—and if the bartender/owner likes the cut of your style, you can enjoy some of the most delicious (and potent) cocktails Berlin has to offer. As the name suggests, they specialize ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • historic
    • lots of rum
    • tiki
  • 9

    Bar Tausend

    Bar Tausend’s increasing international reputation as a hot Berlin nightspot has not made it any easier to find. Its well-concealed entrance—an unmarked door by the train tracks down by the river, literally—tends to dissuade all but the most dedicated searchers. But despite its hidden location, the bar never suffers from a lack of patrons. If you find the door and make it past the doorman, you will discover a tastefully modern lounge, with mirrored vaulted ceilings, loud music (DJs are the norm, but there are occasional live acts) and a not-too-young, not-too-old crowd drawn from all over Europe. The cocktails, while ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • dancing
    • singles scene

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