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Introducing Neukolln

As an amateur of wine, being invited to review a new and upcoming Berliner-inspired bar did seem to be an odd choice before I realized my CV states that I have a B in GCSE ‘Deutsche’. Brushing aside those long forgotten moments of academic glory I made my way down to Spinningfields on Thursday evening, to be present at one of the most eccentric bar launching parties that I’ve ever had the pleasure to invite myself into…

‘Neukolln’, the name of this bar deserves a note or two, for otherwise the average culturally inept student wouldn’t understand the point of its financial backers. Basically, ‘Neukolln’ is a trendy suburb of downtown Berlin. It has garnered fame and fans through the development of the most peculiar bar scene in Eastern Europe, in spite of the fierce Moldovan competition. In this area on the outskirts of the Teutonic capital, disused shops and cafés are ‘requisitioned’ by students with piercings and twenty-something year olds in torn jeans for a basic night of casual drinking. A few quick text messages on someone’s borrowed ‘handy’ and a friend brings an old fridge, another two struggle with a dusty sofa and finally some decent and trending (not in the UK charts’ sense) music. This eclectic gathering is crowned with some chilled beers and over there in Berlin, it promises for a decent night. It doesn’t fall short. It really is taking drinking back to the bare basics and hoping a disgruntled shopkeeper doesn’t keep a shotgun under his pillow.

Leaving Jeremy Paxman’s general knowledge lesson to one side, I actually find myself genuinely attracted to the simple and basic nature of the bar. It really is laidback and the guy and the girl behind the bar are being kept busy playing with the tills.

Located on the ground floor of a building in Spinningfields which is set to be knocked down, the owners haven’t wasted a penny on appearance. Wooden stools, the odd table and a bar that could all have been bought from IKEA over the weekend, the place is a throwback to the bar on the estate in E4’s Misfits series.

We were thirsty, so we got drinks.

Unlike the ‘cool’ and very laidback interior design, the prices are a tad steep for those who get by on the meagre student budget. However, being thirsty we purchase a few glasses of white wine and some traditional imported beer from the Bavarian lowlands. It came to about a tenner, so we got more rounds. Plenty more rounds soon follow…

In terms of drinks there is quite a large selection available and more than enough to tickle the average beer amateur’s fancy. We’re talking about 15 different types of bottled beers, the majority of them are understandably ‘Deutsche’ but there are a few others that made it over the tracks… The average price of one of these fine 0,5l bottles just falls shy of a fiver so look at is a short term investment. The same way a fresher looks adoringly at Glen’s vodka: In the morning you’ll have bigger things to worry about.

The white wine is really decent over there too. It comes in glasses which is unfortunate but probably for the best considering how far Spinningfields is from Fallowfield, financially. Plenty of Riesling to be sampled and we were duly informed that the bar had struck some deals with other infamous beer halls in the surrounding area in order to enlarge their menu, in the same way a traditional Bavarian sausage eater enlarges himself, on a monthly basis. Therefore we plan to return and sample some more delectable and actually, very refreshing alternatives to whatever they serve on tap in Wetherspoons these days.

However no true Berliner-inspired bar can ever claim to inspire itself from one of Europe’s most culturally diverse and quite frankly, brilliant cities without spreading the traditional German student cuisine of green humus and classic ‘deutsche’ brown bread.

Words cannot even come close to describing the culinary ecstasy of humus, gently and generously, spread over the traditional ‘deutsche’ brown and healthy bread. We helped ourselves like stereotypical Germans at a comedy event: what we lacked in finesse we made up in awkwardness.

At the end of the night, once a great many green humus toastees had been consumed and a greater amount of white wine glasses and bottles with colourful german insigna sat empty, we made our graceful exit.

The barman and barwoman thanked us for behaving and in return we thanked them for being generous. I would definitely recommend this bar to anybody who just wants a different feel, another experience instead of the average and mundane expensive joint which sprouts up in Spinningfields like mushrooms at a festival: expensively and at a great danger to students.

Tags: Bar, Berlin, drinking, Neukolln, spinningfields

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