The Best of Berlin in October

Exberliner, Berlin's leading English-language magazine, in October celebrates Haus Schwarzenberg’s 15th birthday, gets it's 15 minutes of DJing fame, and still has time for coffee and cake in Kreuzkölln.

The Best of Berlin in October

Happy birthday Haus Schwarzenberg

It all started in 1995, when the art collective Dead Chickens and their enormous bronze monster sculptures took over an empty Hackescher Markt courtyard. A non-profit organisation (Haus Schwarzenberg e.V.) was established; to show off its creatures, Dead Chickens also opened Eschschloraque bar and created a “monster cabinet” in the basement. Now, 15 years later, this Hackesche Hof is a very unique Berlin institution. Haus Schwarzenberg continues to runs the bar and an art gallery (Neurotitan, which was a pioneering exhibitor of street art), and rents out space to Kino Central, designers, artists, illustrators and Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt. The latter pays homage to Weidt, a German who sheltered Jews in his brush factory during the Second World War. In fact, the courtyard’s worn-down façade is like its own little museum, silently telling the story of Berlin’s hectic 20th century history. Once home to the headquarters of DEFA, the GDR’s official film company, the fall of the Wall left the surrounding buildings empty – ready for the Haus Schwarzenberg era to begin. Their decrepit walls are covered in posters, graffiti tags and painted messages: a look that perfectly encapsulates the shabby-chic-with-a-dash-of-history so prized by Berlin’s visitors. And since this is Berlin, the Haus is celebrating its 15th anniversary clad in scaffolding. But even that won’t spoil the fun: from October 15-30, there will be DJs, art and photography displays, an art/design fair and much more. By Karen Sophie Egebo

Flesh ‘n’ blood file sharing

Cigarette in mouth, you stand sweaty palmed, clutching a handful of scratched records and CDs. On the wall, a giant beamed digital timer counts down towards zero. The DJ is indulging in some obscure Italo disco. When the timer reaches 00:00, Tom, the host, flips a switch and your first 33 LP starts spinning: SOS Band’s “Just be Good to Me”. A couple shake their skinny butts half-heartedly to the 1983 funk classic. For the next 900 seconds (hence the name of Kim’s DIY party on the last weekend of every month), you have to entertain a hodgepodge crowd of gallerinas, bearded Mitte guys and an assortment of DJs – from totally professional to hopelessly amateurish – and their various entourages. Five tracks later (one, Stereo Total’s “L’amour à trois”, managed to get a few enthusiastic bodies onto the miniscule dance floor), and your all-too-eclectic set is promptly cut off. A real DJ-producer type elbows his way in and starts making all of those ‘real DJ’ movements: with one ear to the headphones, he flips and slides switches, expertly fondling his vinyl. Your 15 minutes vanish into smoke; your DJ ego is crestfallen but you’re relieved you don’t have to do it for a living. And for the rest of the night, there’s new music every quarter-hour. Never a dull moment. In reaction to Berliners’ tendency to share music on MySpace and SoundCloud, rather than in the flesh, organisers Tom Heywood and Martina Carl took “user generated content” offline and into nightlife. It really is a better way to “share”: anyone can show up for this DJ version of karaoke, with any music in virtually any medium – vinyl, MP3, CDs, tapes, Ableton Live. Just show up at 22:00 to secure your slot. By Seymour Gris

Cakes and vintage fashion… for a song

From a burgeoning nest of ateliers in Kreuzkölln, Sing Blackbird has become the latest addition to the neighbourhood’s hype by dishing up “vintage, coffee and cake” five days a week to a crowd of local and transient Berliners. Hailing from Germany (with Croatian parents) and the US, owners Diana Durdic and Tasha Arana make a winsome duo. Arana, a former New Yorker, worked as an accessories designer, while Durdic was an engineer. As the latter says, “We’re able to take advantage of each other’s abilities.” Though even these weren’t able to prevent them from being robbed on their first week in business… which proves Neukölln might, after all, have retained some genuine local flair. Spanning multiple white-walled rooms, Sing Blackbird oozes more modern elegance than scruffy vintage (the place used to be a phone-sex HQ, but gone are the artifacts of its earlier incarnation). Light fittings are fashioned from birdcages, fresh flowers adorn the tables and dainty crockery features on the wall. Make use of the free wifi and settle in for an espresso, made from coffee beans roasted just outside Berlin (Ridders Kaffeerösterei). And don’t go without trying the homemade baked goods, such as the delicious Zwetschgenkuchen or organic scones with marmalade (both €2.50); there are also savoury options from Hokkaido pumpkin quiche to Spanish tortilla (€3). No visit would be complete without trying on some of the handpicked stock: leopard-print ankle boots for €35, or a 1970s knit sweater dress for €50. Sourced from Germany, Poland and the US, the 1970s-1990s garments, shoes and accessories are decently priced, and you can swap your own clothes for store or café credit. Just in case you wanted to leave empty-handed… (or empty-bellied for that matter!). by Melissa Gray-Ward

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Five German drinks to try this summer

There’s nothing quite like a cold drink on a hot summer’s day and the Germans know it well. That’s why they’ve got a variety of tasty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to cool them down in the hottest months. Here are five you should try.

Five German drinks to try this summer

Summertime in Germany can get pretty hot, but thankfully there are plenty of popular drinks which can help you cool down, as well as tickle the tastebuds.

In Germany, fizzy water is wildly popular, so it’s not surprising that Sprudel is a key ingredient in most of the drinks on this list.


A Hugo cocktail. Photo: Greta Farnedi/Unsplash

The Hugo is a cocktail made of Prosecco, elderflower syrup, mint leaves, a shot of mineral water and a slice of lime.

This refreshing alcoholic drink was invented by Roland Gruber, a bartender in South Tyrol, the mainly German-speaking region of northern Italy in 2005.

Though the drink wasn’t invented in Germany, it quickly spread across the borders of northern Italy and gained popularity here. Nowadays, you’ll be able to order a Hugo in pretty much any bar in the country.


A woman holds a pint of Radler. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Nicolas Armer

One of the best-known and most popular mixed beer drinks is the Radler: a concoction of beer and lemonade, a bit like a British shandy. In some areas of Germany – particularly in the south – the mixture is called Alster.

Usually, the ratio is 60 percent beer and 40 percent lemonade, but there are also some interesting variants. In some regions of Germany, a distinction is made between sweet (with lemonade) and sour (with water) Radler. Some foolhardy drinkers even mix their beer with cola (called a diesel).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German regions producing the most important beer ingredient


A woman pours apple spritz into plastic cups. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Soeren Stache

Apfelschorle is an absolute German classic.

The traditional mix of apple juice and fizzy water is a 1:1 ratio, but if you’re making the drink at home you can adjust the measurements to your liking. 

The concept of Saftschorle (fruit spritzer) has moved way beyond the plain old apple in Germany though. On Supermarket shelves, you’ll find major drinks chains offering a wide variety of fizzy fruit beverages, including  Rhabarbe-Schorle (Rhubarb spritz), Schwarze Johannisbeer-Schorle (Black currant spritz) and Holunderschorle (elderberry spritz).

Berliner Weiße mit Schuss

A woman drinks a Berliner Weiße in Berlin.

A woman drinks a Berliner Weiße in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Britta Pedersen

The Berliner Weiße (or Weisse) is an old, German beer, brewed with barley and wheat malt.

As the name suggests, it originates from the German capital, where it was extremely popular in the 19th century and was celebrated as the “Champagne of the North”.

But by the end of the 19th century, sour beer styles, including this one, became increasingly unpopular and they almost died out completely. 

READ ALSO: Five German foods that aren’t what you think they are

So people started mixing the drink with sweet syrup. This gave rise to the trend of drinking Berliner Weissbier with a shot (Schuss) of raspberry or woodruff syrup, which is still widely enjoyed today. Some breweries even ferment fruits such as raspberries or strawberries.

The drink is so well-known in Germany, that there was even a TV series named after it which ran for 10 years 1984 to 1995.


Water and wine in equal parts and both well chilled – a light summer drink. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | DWI

Another fizzy-water-based German classic is the white wine spritz. 

A wine spritzer is a refreshing drink on warm summer days which has the advantage of not going to your head as quickly as a regular glass of wine. With equal parts fizzy water and wine, the drink has only about 5-6 percent alcohol, compared to glass of pure white wine, which has about 9-14 percent. 

For optimum German-ness when making this drink at home, choose a German white wine such as Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner or Riesling.

Enjoy and drink responsibly!