The city of Berlin may have reunited, but at hidden Melbourne drinking den, Berlin Bar, there’s still a great divide.
The sumptuous speakeasy, located a floor above the pulsing Corrs Lane, is divided into West and East Berlin, juxtaposing opulence against wartime for a drinking experience with a difference. Inspired by Charlie Chaplain’s character in the lm ‘The Great Dictator’, it is a celebration of an oft-forgotten era, thought to be forever lost in history.
Before you can enjoy Berlin Bar’s spoils, you’ll have to find it. The only indication of its location is an exterior sign, sitting metres above eye level. Enter into a dimly lit staircase and take the stairs up until you reach a black door with a doorbell. Ring it, and soon you’ll be ushered into a space frozen in time, where carefully crafted cocktails and classic customer service are paramount.
Choose your setting: will you choose the West, where leather banquettes sit by framed windows; plush fabrics adorn the furniture, and the lighting is soft? Or will you cross over Checkpoint Charlie to the East, where army netting covers the ceiling, a red glow permeates the space, and furnishings are much more sparse?
No matter where you sit, you’re guaranteed the same level of attention and care. Forget about lining up at the bar; this is the type of place where bartenders come to you. They know their stuff and are happy to whip up anything your heart desires, but the established cocktail list is sure to have something that catches your eye.
The Sulphur Bay Nightcap combines Berlin’s own spiced rum, Grand Marnier and a homemade spiced syrup with lime, apple and mint, and is capped o by star anise. In contrast, the Luftwaffle Sour features Tanqueray gin, triple sec, crème di voile e, citrus and egg white, uniting for a smooth flight into cocktail heaven.
Negroni lovers can sip their way through the Italienishen Hengst, a house twist on the iconic cocktail. Havana Club Especial is balanced with sweet vermouth and coffee-infused Campari, with dark chocolate as the icing on the cake of an indulgent combination.
Berlin Bar isn’t just about cocktails – after all, what good is a German bar without beer? Order 500ml of the Erdinger Weissbier or Weihenstephaner Pilsner straight up, or turn them into boilermakers with the addition of a paired spirit. If it’s wine your after, there’s a small selection from here, there and everywhere – grab a glass of German riesling or Tasmanian pinot noir.
The team at Berlin Bar knows that any drinking experience is made better when snacks are on offer. Fries come seasoned with homemade sauce, while a Berlin-style sausage is topped with sauerkraut, mayonnaise and tomato sauce. For something really worth picking at, turn to the charcuterie plate or the Kaseplatte, featuring either a selection of cheeses or cured meats.
Despite the vastly different designs, Berlin Bar is an intimate space, perfect for first dates or bragging to out-of-towners about what a great city Melbourne is. With an incredibly niche concept, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that you’re sure to return to time and time again.