There are cities that practically come with a corresponding drink. On a mild summer eve in Paris, what else would you have but a glass of French red wine? A night out in Manhattan pretty much calls for a fancy longdrink. And wouldn’t you automatically order a huge beer mug in Munich? What’s the corresponding drink for Berlin though? The snotty diverse charm of the capital seems to not really match one specific beverage. Prosecco? Too chic. Gin tonic? Too mainstream. Whisky? Too expensive. Tap water? Nice try. Following extensive field research and self-attempt we’re proud (and hungover) to present: 5 drinks you must try in Berlin:
Your grandma thinks the world of it: Berliner Weisse
Let’s be honest: if you’re at one of residentadvisor’s top Berlin techno clubs, you might not want to order this brightly green or pink beer-mix. Or if you have to, do it ironically. Back in the days, when your parents went to visit the island of West Berlin, they did already slurp this wheat beer and syrup mix and feel very cosmopolitan. Berliner Weisse is the only beer type that was genuinely invented in Berlin: a slightly sour beer, once brewed by approximately 700 breweries in the Prussian capital. Since the 19th century, woodruff and raspberry syrup has been added; since the 1950s it has become a somewhat chliché drink of Berlin. These days, some very hip craft beer makers are trying to help Berliner Weisse lose its philistine image. We’ll see if that works.
ABV: 2.8 – 3.5%
What time: A fashionable river cruise on the Spree
Where to find it: Wherever there are load of tourists
Price: ca. € 2.50 – 5.00
Cheap and ntasty: Sterni
Germany, land of beer and homeland of brewing culture. You would probably think that the most popular beer in the capital is some very delicious nectar of hops and barley. Well… there is no accounting for taste, as we all know. Talking about accounting though: Sterni beer comes at an unbeatable price. At the späti (a sort of deli or kiosk) it won’t set you back more than 80 cents, which is probably why you see myriads of people picking this poison at the public park on a sunny afternoon. Sternburg Export is a Leipzig-based brand and has been the best-selling beer in Eastern Germany for years in a row. Echoing GDR traditions there used to be zero advertisement up until 2011, and even since then their campaigns would be labeled “ironic anti-advertisement” at best. The bottom line is: It might not be the best beer there is, but it’s cheap and somehow matches the shabby vibe of Berlin. It’s a little bit like that 2 am doner kebab that you have whenever you’re drunk: probably a bad idea that you will definitely regret the next morning, but there’s a reason you keep doing it. And that’s probably a good thing.
What time: Make sure to be drunk already and finish it before it gets warm.
Where to find it: Every späti (kiosk)
Price: ca. € 0.70 – 1.30
Cocaine is so eighties: Turbo-Mate
Mate is an ancient crop plant from South America, the leaves of which have been used to make a stimulating infusion for centuries. There’s an iced-tea version that’s been sold by a Bavarian family business under the name Club Mate since the 1920s in Germany, but it’s not been until the 2000s that the hacker scene made it popular. It somehow found its way to the techno clubs of Berlin and the rest is history – demand grew so rapidly that for a while there was even a shortness of supply. Today there are more than a dozen manufacturers offering a number of different flavours to the thirsty hipster masses. One popular way to have mate is by turning it into an alcoholic long drink called Turbo-Mate. The magic formula: open the bottle, have a couple of sips, then fill it up with gin or vodka (or if you’re like super fancy, prosecco) and it’s done: a legal substitute for cocaine on a club night. Nobody likes it at the first try, but after a week everyone’s addicted.
ABV: depending on your taste and courage
What time: At a party or club. Also: miracle drug for hangovers
Where to find it: At the späti, at the club, at every hipster bar
Price: ca. € 1.50 (mate) + € 2 – 4 (booze)
Forget Listerine: Pfeffi
Just a regular Saturday night: pre-game with an unhealthy combination of delicious drinks (Sterni, Turbo-Mate), then a cheap doner kebab in order to overwhelm your stomach entirely, and when you’ve got the foulest taste in your mouth, you know you’re good. This is the time to bring the big guns ins: Pfeffi, also known as Berliner Luft (“the air of Berlin”) is an integral part of a proper night out in Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. The sweet peppermint liquor has not only survived the end of the GDR, it has actually become a very trendy shot. From highschool binge drinkers to business-owning yuppies from Prenzlauer Berg, everybody swears by the garish green elixir. Lifehack: it’s the perfect substitute for your toothbrush on the weekend.
ABV: 18 – 20%
What time: Whenever brushing your teeth would actually be the healthier choice
Where to find it: Bars, nightclubs, späti
Price: ca. € 1.50 – 3.00
Refreshment Bosporus-style: Ayran
For most beverages there’s an corresponding vessel, such as the bulbous wine glass, a classic whisky tumbler, fancy champagne flute, or the slender wheat-beer glass. One of the most popular beverages in the German capital comes in the fanciest of vessels: a plastic yogurt cup. We’re talking ayran, an non-alcoholic refreshment from Turkey based on yogurt, water, and salt. Slightly sour in taste it goes nicely with doner, kofta, and falafel. There are other flavours on the market, too, such as mango or cherry. It’s tasty, cheap and thanks to healthy yogurt cultures it’s good for your stomach. Always an option.
What time: Around the clock, best with food.
Where to find it: Every Turkish restaurant in town.
Price: ca. € 1
Picture: Datei: #161702937 | Urheber: hanohiki – fotolia
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.