So the smoking apartheid has finally hit Berlin. Kind of. The “nonsmoker protection law” has acknowledged the inherent fragility of those avoiding cancer sticks, but it has yet to extinguish the numerous corner pubs, “private clubs” and other quintessentially smoky places that just can't be bothered to heed the law. Some bar and restaurant owners though, have put some cash and brains into pampering their tobacco-addicted clientele with separate smoking rooms, while offering the happy others a kosher, smoke-free atmosphere.
Rusty film canisters still clutter the windows of this Hackescher Markt homestead opened on the final day of the GDR. The windowed front room is still smoke-friendly and has five tables for the mostly 30-plus Stammgäste as they hear rock music and enjoy a full bar with espresso and beer on tap. Although the café no longer has a cinema, right around the corner in the same Hof are Freiluftkino Mitte and Kino Central, welcome contrasts to the “Star-burks” next door.
Lass uns Freunde Bleiben
Just a few blocks off the bustle of Kastanienallee, this relaxed café caters to a young international crowd until late into the night and accommodates the smokers with a cozy renovated back room with windows, ventilation, and a sliding glass door. Run by the owner of our favorite NY-style pizza joint Fat Ass, the relaxed locale boasts €1 cups of gourmet coffee, a full bar and a diverse chill-out music collection to complement your cigarette.
Right on Boxi, this F'hain bar is big enough to simply keep smoke in the largest of the rooms, bludgeoning you with hardcore/metal/punk screaming out of the speakers, worn-down sofas facing apocalyptic comic characters on the wall, and an ocean of exaggerated facial hair and piercings. Not lacking sophistication, the surly bartender splashes out Staropramen Dark and Strongbow in addition to a standard pilsner in the next room. You'll have to drop your cigarette to play foosball, pool, and pinball though.
Who ever said Kreuzberg has no class? Dress up for the descent down into this smoker's lair, something between a Bond villain hideout and a porn kingpin's bedroom. Chesterfield sofas, red velvet curtains, glass tables, a fireplace, and pitch-black wallpaper set the mood for the sexiest cigarette you've had in ages. Go back upstairs for a French grillade done to perfection, and a proud glass of red from their extensive wine list. The ultimate indulgence in the heart of Kreuzkölln.
Juleps New York Bar & Restaurant
Jazz and blues are piped into the filtered smoking lounge in the back of this stylish, yet unpretentious American restaurant. Phones connect smokers to the bartender as they enjoy Cuban cigars (sold at the bar), projected sporting events, and a gas fireplace during the winter. The young professional crowd, about a fourth of which are English speakers, are served juicy all-US beef, grilled and ground to order, while the attentive staff serves from a 22-page drink menu with 17 single malts. Fits the elegance of Charlottenburg perfectly.
Café Cinema, Rosenthaler Str. 39, Mitte, S-Bhf Hackescher Markt, Tel 280 6415, open daily 12-open end
Lass uns Freunde Bleiben, Choriner Str. 12, S-Bhf Senefelderplatz, Prenzlauer Berg, no phone, Mon-Fri 8-open end, Sat 12-open end
Feuermelder, Krossener Str. 24, Friedrichshain, U-Bhf Samariterstr., Tel 291 1937, open Mon-Thu 15-04, Fri, Sat 15-07, Sun 10-03
Kirk Royal, Paul-Lincke-Ufer 45, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Kottbusser Tor, Tel 695 35299, open Mon-Fri 9-01, Sat-Sun 10-02
Juleps New York Bar & Restaurant, Giesebrechtstr. 3, Charlottenburg, U-Bhf Adenauerplatz, Tel 881 8823, Sun-Thu 17-01, Fri-Sat 17-02