“Would you prefer the classic version or would you like me to surprise you?” We went out on a limb and trusted the bartender. In return, we got the best cocktail of our lives. It was an Old Fashioned – yes, really hard stuff – made with maple syrup instead of sugar and a particularly smoky single malt whiskey. Served in a round crystal tumbler and towered by a single, monolithic ice cube that turned this liquid composition into a geometric treat for the eyes. It tasted just like a warm summer night by the campfire at a lake somewhere in the middle of the woods. The Thelonius Bar in Berlin’s Weserstraße is one of those places one simply passes by too often. Barely noticeable it is hidden away between a falafel joint, loud pubs and (admittedly Neukölln’s best) Indian restaurant. Once inside, you’ll find an intoxicating atmosphere, people smoking, and – in proper style – jazz music playing in the background. And there’s no doubt about it, barkeepers here are professional (and not students): With a flourish and a twist of the wrist the whiskey is strained and poured into the shaker, the syrup runs down a 50cm long silver spoon, the glasses are all ice cold. Guests will be pleased to note that drinks are not watered down or otherwise messed around with. Mixing cocktails is an art and requires perfection. Every move is planned and is carried out by all three barkeepers with finesse and dedication even when no one is watching. If they were alone or in the dark, they would do it in exactly the same way because that is how it is done – unpretentious, pleasing and refreshingly good. If we didn’t know any better we’d think ourselves somewhere between East London and Williamsburg. But we are, in fact, in Berlin. And our cocktail straight from heaven cost us less than 10 Euros. We’ll be stopping by again soon. And then again. And again.
Thelonious Bar | Weserstr. 202, 12047 Berlin | Mon.-Sun. 7 pm to 2 am | www.thelonius-bar.de | Photo: Ute Haufe