Becketts Kopf: A visit at one of my favourite bars, in Berlin.
This post is also available in: Greek
What kind of bar do you dream of? My dream bar is definitely a combination of intimacy, energy and good conversation. A dimly lit place holding around fifty people, elegant interior with comfy bar chairs. Decent music would complete the atmosphere. The cocktail list would include not more than fifteen drinks. A place for classic and sophisticated drinking. Something like Becketts Kopf.
I still remember my first visit at Becketts Kopf (which means Becketts head) three years ago. The bar could be easily overlooked, only the illuminated portrait of Samuel Beckett shows that you are at the right place. A bell, which is responded to by an individual greeting and seating, must be rung before entering the bar. You will find yourself in a dimly lit warm and cozy two-room place with a few seats at the bar and comfortable armchairs.
First time at Becketts Kopf
On my first visit, an elegant and graceful host opened the door. I found out later in the evening that it was the owner. The bar opened its doors in 2004 when people were not familiar with serious cocktail drinking in Germany. Nobody had an idea how old the bar culture actually is and their drinking habits stuck more to the sweet and creamy cocktails. Becketts Kopf has revived the classic bar culture and is “a bar to refine your senses”.
When you take your seat at the small bar counter, you immediately have a big glass of water in front of you. A little detail one should find in every cocktail bar. The bar specializes in lovingly crafted artisan drinks. Maybe, if you let your eye wonder over the spirit collection, you will be surprised by the small number of bottles and the mainly unknown brands.
The composition of the cocktails is inspired by the old and forgotten recipes from the last third of the 1800s. The drinks are short and rich. It is a sensorial experience and the bar team infuse love, passion and attention to detail into preparing the right flavor combinations, the emphasis glassware and the fitting garnish, but without a huge fanfare.
They use handcrafted spirits by impassioned producers. Germany and Austria are two of the best distillers and produce very aromatic small-batch craft spirits, for example Stählemühle and Hiebl Destillerie. Of course they are more expensive, but you only need to add by the spoonful to get the full aroma. There is no lab, or smoke gun or any other technical equipment needed to provide a very special taste experience.
Inside Becketts Kopf
The menu comes hidden between the pages of a book by the namesake of the bar, the writer Samuel Beckett. A good menu has to be interesting and have something to say. The brains behind the bar are Oliver Ebert and his wife Cristina. Both are friendly but reserved. The focus is on the drinking experience rather than the show behind the bar. Oliver is a studied philosopher and literary scholar and each drink has a unique title and a poetic description. This indicates the character and the taste of each concoction in a very sophisticated way.
My first drink of choice was the Lusitanian: an alchemical manifesto of love for Portugal. Aguardente Velha, cherry brandy and port, with a hint of cinnamon, sing together the Fado. The result is symphonic, beautifully balanced and aromatic. I found myself back in the atmosphere of Lisbon’s old town.
The drinks are served in vintage glasses on small linen tablecloths. A delicate lavender shrub, a piece of chocolate, one scoop of sorbet, a clear hand-cracked ice ball, and a beautiful garnish complete the artfulness of these beautifully executed cocktails.
My favourite at the moment is Stone: the earth of Madeira, bitter gentian roots, breathing the salty air of a whisky: a liquid grated stone. The taste is complex, mineral and refreshing. The heavy dark vessel gives one the feeling of holding a cool stone in one’s hand. This is the place to refine all of your senses. Your ears are treated to well selected music. The barfood, delights the palate.
Perfection, continuity in quality, the greatest care in preparation, a strong knowledge of ingredients and the background of beverages, and innovation through the years, are the reasons why this bar is one of the best. The drinks have a high recognition factor.
Just a small anecdote: I was in another bar where the bartender made me a special drink. I took a sip, a second one, I smiled and said “it tastes like Becketts Kopf”. The bartender looked at me very surprised and answered: “I worked for four years at Becketts Kopf”.
* By Alexandra ”Barstalker”