Berlin’s nice bars and – admittedly – Don Draper have played a significant role in my interest in drinks past wine, beer and vodka soda. There are plenty of great bars and talented barkeepers in this city that can make your mouth happy when it longs for something more experimental than those “standard” liquids.
But there are nights, when I don’t feel like hanging out in a smoky bar, but want to shake and twist a little at home to whip up a great drink. I usually end up with just a glass of wine, because I neither have the energy to research what I could easily mix nor do I want to have huge bottles of ingredients rotting away on my shelves.
The Berlin-based start-up Drink Syndikat now presents the perfect solution to all those issues. Each month drink expert and founder Erik Pfauth assembles a box with high quality ingredients to a total of six drinks, which you can order directly to your house. A little booklet tells you what you can mix from those ingredients as well as the history of the drinks and origin of the spirits.
I spoke with Erik about his business and the best Bars in Berlin…
Erik’s mom sells wine and spirits and thus he grew up with an interest in high quality drinks. Gin was his first love, he tells me on the phone, but he got over Gin & Tonic after a while and wanted to drink more creatively. The idea to Drink Syndikat was born and as Erik had thought about his own business for a while he quit his job and now spends his days researching recipes, filling the little bottles and all else that Drink Syndikat requires.
He sent his first boxes out in December and is excited about the great interest in his idea. Drink Syndikat opposes the idea that it’s impossible to recreate great bar drinks at home without a huge investment. “You have to invest time to research recipes and shopping for good quality ingredients, but that’s exactly what Drink Syndikat does for you,” Erik says. Thus at home you simply follow the instructions in the handbook, add some ice cubes and possibly fresh fruit and it’s done: You’ve created your own bar-like drink to impress.
Each box contains ingredients and recipes for two different cocktails and Erik tries to approach these as creatively as possible. “I do want to remind people of the classics, but with a modern touch.” As you can imagine, the pretty little bottles in the monthly boxes are not filled with those standard spirits you can buy anywhere, but usually with special and if possible even regional spirits.
“I want Drink Syndikat to offer a well rounded experience,” Erik says and therefore tells the tales to each drink and supplier in the little handbook that comes with each box. “It’s really like a little cocktail lesson. If you have our subscription you get an insight into the world of drinks and hopefully the sense that it’s not actually that difficult.”
Now that I have the expert on the phone I jump to the opportunity and ask him about the best bars in Berlin and he first tells me his rule of thumb: “ If you see pretty bottles filled with a variety of cocktail bitters behind the bar, you’re usually in a very good place.” And more directly: “I like the Brügge Bar at Kottbusser Damm, the Limonadier in Bergmannkiez, the Green Door at Winterfeldplatz or the Apotheke at Mariannenplatz – they even do their own tonic water. Another great place is the Rum Trader in Wilmersdorf. You have to ring a bell and if one of the few places is still available, a waiter in a bow tie guides you to your seat -at least this was my experience – and their drinks are amazing.”
Well, I suppose now the choice is up to you: Your couch with a Drink Syndikat cocktail or out and about in Berlin’s great world of bars.
You can order single boxes or subscribe to Drink Syndikat via their website.