Four days in Berlin

Back in October, I was invited to Bar Convent Berlin to give a presentation on beer cocktails. It’s a great convention, and I highly recommend going if you get the opportunity. It also gave me a chance to write a drinking guide to the city for Eater. There was no way to get to every bar I wanted, but I gave it my best shot! Thirteen of my favorites are mapped out here.


Unfortunately, a wave of fog left me stranded in Amsterdam for a day on the way there, cutting my trip a bit shorter than intended. (Being stuck in Amsterdam isn’t such a bad thing, but most of that time was spent at the airport trying to figure out when I’d be leaving. Thanks KLM!) That meant I didn’t get to do much in Berlin that didn’t involve drinks and didn’t get to any of the museums I wanted to visit. Nevertheless, there is more to life than bars, or so I’m told. Here are a few of the other places I enjoyed visiting and recommend if you’re in the city.

Atheist Shoes

AtheistYes, it’s a shoe store for atheists! Does the religious affiliation of one’s shoe store really matter? Not really, but I’d shop here regardless of the owners’ beliefs; the fact that some of their shoes come with “Ich bin atheist” etched into the soles is just a bonus. I picked up a pair of their blue “Das Petrol” boots and they’ve become one of my favorite pairs of shoes; I’m wearing them as I type this, in fact. The store is tucked into a courtyard but worth the effort of seeking out. They also ship to the US and occasionally do pop up shops here, so don’t let the lack of travel plans to Germany dissuade you shopping. Pet owners should also consider commissioning a pair of their “Walkies Forever” for when their furry friends pass on (offer valid only on the first of April).


I was also coveting the retro athletic sneakers at Zeha, which has multiple locations around the city. They were a little outside this freelance writer’s budget for one trip, but I expect I’ll be taking advantage of their online store sometime soon as well.

Imbiss 204

ImbissThis cozy kitchen came highly recommended on the Berlin Food Stories weblog. It’s so good I went here twice, despite having such a short time in the city. It’s simple, well-executed German food, and it’s irresistibly good. Great meats, delicious sauces, and tremendous portions. Just go.

Le Boui Boui


I ended up here needing a bite to eat after a visit to Monterey Bar, a craft beer and rock-and-roll bar I recommend in my Eater guide. Delicious flammkuchen prepared on the spot in a tiny, charming space make the perfect post-drink snack, especially if you’ve already had your share of currywurst or doner kebab.

Dr. Kochan Schnapskultur

KochanAny time I travel abroad, I try to find a unique spirit or two to bring back home in my suitcase. This geeky liquor store was the perfect place to shop. It’s almost all unusual spirits; I think they carried just one brand of vodka. I left with an amazing Swiss single malt called Santis Edition Dreifaltigkeit, which is aged in oak beer casks and carries a tremendous, meaty smokiness. Had I the luggage space, I could have picked a lot more of interest here.

Cafe CK

This coffee shop is co-owned Cory Andreen, who I used to work with back in barista days in DC. I went to Portland, he went to Berlin. As much as I love Portland, I’m starting to think he made the better decision. He opened Cafe CK there a few years ago and has been elevating the local coffee scene (here’s an interview with him on the topic). He’s also become known for serving draft coffee on nitro. I’m normally a skeptic of cold coffee, but Cory’s is brewed hot and then rapidly cooled, which allows bright acidity to come through. His draft coffee stand at BCB fueled my time on the floor there, and Cafe CK was my regular stop post-convention.

Soul Objects

celebrity dressesThis is the kind of shop that would be very hard to open in the US, given our restrictive liquor licenses. It’s an eclectic shop with art, barware, home goods, personal grooming products, and a selection of very high quality spirits, including rums from Samaroli. I especially liked this collection of porcelain inspired by nautical tattoos, though with my limited luggage space, I only took home a couple of the shot glasses (pictured above with an appropriately nautical bottle of aquavit from my home bar).

Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun

Should you happen to be in Berlin on a Thursday night, head to this market hall for a massive selection of street food vendors. It’s packed with people, global food offerings, and plenty to drink.

Thai Park

I didn’t actually get to experience this one. I’d planned to make this my first stop when I landed, but my flight delays led to me missing it entirely. It’s a spontaneous gathering of Thai expats who cook in the park on Sundays when the weather is good, selling to anyone who comes by. I didn’t make it on this trip, but it’s number one on my list the next time I make it to Berlin.


Corduroy appreciation photos

Here are a couple of my favorite photos from Corduroy Appreciation Day. This first one was sent to me by Portland resident Adam Schafer. He wasn’t able to attend our party but he may have outdone us all with this amazing Corduroy Appreciation Cake.


Second, here’s my friend Ed Ryan sporting the reversible corduroy smoking jacket from Betabrand. Casual on one side, party on the other. We put it to its intended use in the El Gaucho cigar lounge at 11:11 pm, where it was the envy of all present.


Hail the Wale!


Hail the Wale and the Two Item Rule


Long time readers know that I have a possibly unhealthy love of corduroy fabric. I have corduroy pants, jackets, and hats. Even my laptop case is lined in corduroy, which was a big selling point for me when I bought it. When I first considered moving to Portland from Washington, DC I thought, “That is a city with a relaxed sense of fashion and many cool rainy days. I could probably wear a lot of corduroy there.”

In some sense every day is a day to appreciate corduroy, but in another sense there is only one true Corduroy Appreciation Day, as declared by the venerable Corduroy Appreciation Club. That is 11|11, the date that most resembles corduroy. And this Friday being 11|11|11, it is the date that most resembles corduroy, ever. (Except for 11|11|1111, but I’m pretty sure the people of that time had yet to discover essential comforts like modern medicine, indoor plumbing, and finely waled fabrics.)

Corduroy Appreciation Club founder Miles Rohan has planned an amazing series of celebratory happenings in New York this week, including the installation of the Corduroy Messiah. Unfortunately I cannot be there. However I have teamed up with Portland’s The Hop and Vine to organize a celebration of our own. From 5-8 pm this Friday, The Hop and Vine’s new chef will be serving a special menu of twists on food from the Golden Age of Corduroy, with items such as smoked pork, beef, and lamb Swedish meatballs. We’ll also have a special Two Item Rule cocktail for the occasion, named after the Two Item Rule in effect at the Club’s official meetings. Wear one item of Corduroy, get a dollar off. Wear two items and get two. Wear three and, well, you still only get two dollars off, but you will have won the admiration of all who gaze you upon you.

What’s in a Two Item Rule cocktail? In a nod to the fabric’s reportedly English origins, I aimed to use only English or English-inspired ingredients to create a drink as smooth and lush as corduroy itself. It features the very lightly sweetened Old Tom style gin, authentic sloe gin, and cream sherry, a type of sherry originally targeted to the British market.

1 1/2 oz Ransom Old Tom gin
1 oz Dios Baco cream sherry
3/4 oz Plymouth sloe gin

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist. The Dios Baco cream sherry is not too sweet, so adjust the recipe if using a different sherry. And definitely use real sloe gin, not the cloying artificial stuff from the liquor store’s bottom shelf. Consume while wearing at least two items of corduroy or while reclining on a corduroy couch.

If you’re in Portland, join us this Friday to toast the world’s greatest fabric. Details are here. For last minute corduroy needs, Bonobos and Betabrands make good stuff. And be sure to check out the official page of the Corduroy Appreciation Club for all things corduroy.

Hail the Wale!


Ales and cocktails for holiday imbibing

My December column for Culinate is up and this month I recommend seven notable holiday beers worth trying. The focus is on widely available beers rather than obscure — but often delicious! — local ones. This was a fun article to research, pretty much requiring me to buy lots of high-alcohol ales and invite friends over to try them.

On the spirit side of things, one of my favorite men’s lifestyle websites, Magnificent Bastard, invited me to contribute a few recipes to their holiday cocktail guide. As an aspiring magnificent bastard myself, it’s an honor to be included. Follow their main page here.


Fight pantslessness

November is officially Pants Awareness Month, which makes this a good day to recommend some of my favorite trousermongers, the wacky guys at Lindlands’ Cordarounds. They’ve invented reversible smoking jackets, authentic black sheep sweaters, bike to work pants, vagisoft pockets, and, most ingeniously, the word’s only corduroy pants with horizontal waling.

It’s no secret that I think corduroy is the king of fabrics (not quite literally), but the hot and humid DC summers made cords a strictly fall and winter thing. It’s why I had to move to Portland. But last year Lindlands launched (literally) new summer weight cords, proving their lightness by giving flight to a pair with the aid of a few helium balloons. They sounded good, but I wasn’t quite sold until I saw where they landed: Nearly two weeks later, they hit ground at Spring High School. As in Spring, TX, the town where I grew up, and the very high school where my mom taught English for many years. If that’s not a sign from the pant gods, I don’t know what it is.

I bought a pair and now I’m converted to horizontal corduroy. If you or someone you know is pantless, check ’em out.


The tie’s demise

The best news I’ve read this week:

After 60 years, the Men’s Dress Furnishings Association, the trade group that represents American tie makers, is expected to shut down Thursday.

Association members now number just 25, down from 120 during the 1980s power-tie era. U.S. tie companies have been consolidating. Others have closed because of overseas competition as the U.S. market share for American-made ties has fallen to about 40%, from 75% in 1995.

Members have lost interest. But the biggest reason for the group’s demise: Men aren’t wearing ties.

I especially like these paragraphs:

Some members of the neckwear association sensed the trend two years ago when, at the group’s annual luncheon in New York, a number of people turned up tieless. Marty Staff, chief executive of men’s clothing company JA Apparel Corp., which has a big neckwear business, was one of them.

“It was deliberate,” explains Mr. Staff, who says he wanted to make a statement to his colleagues. “Historically, the guy wearing the navy suit, the white shirt and the burgundy tie would be the CEO. Now he’s the accountant,” Mr. Staff explains.

And this one nails it:

The problem for neckwear designers, as for regular guys, is that a tie no longer automatically conveys the authority and respectability it once did, even if it does cause some people to call you sir. In fact, it can be a symbol of subservience and of trying too hard.

The obligatory necktie is an absurd requirement, especially in a swampy town like Washington, DC where so many people walk, Metro, bus, or bike to work. It’s hot, constricting, and adds considerably to the cost of a wardrobe. Many men hate their ties too much to bother making them look good, and ties are no longer the only way to convey an image of authority. Their time as an everyday necessity has passed.

Washington, of course, will be the last place to get the memo.

[Via TMN.]


Great fabric, great beer

Do you know what tomorrow is? It’s 11/11, the day that most resembles corduroy as declared by the incredibly awesome Corduroy Appreciation Club.

The New Yorker tells the story of the club in this intriguing article. A question left undecided is what drink most resembles corduroy. One member suggests a Manhattan, which with its complex hues of brown and red is a fine choice. However I think the most fitting drink is Guinness. With its soft, creamy texture, brown and black coloring, and conspicuously upwardflowing bubbles suggesting verticality, it’s the ultimate choice for 11/11.

I wonder if DC’s Corduroy restaurant has Guinness on the menu?


Vandy fashion update

Delta Delta DeltaIf the epidemic of pastel Ugg boots of several years ago proved anything, it’s that Vanderbilt women should beware of strange fashion trends from island nations. That lesson must have faded from institutional memory. As Chad reports from our weekend excursion to Nashville for our college’s annual Rites of Spring concert, a new atrocity has swept across the Vanderbilt fashion landscape:

The muumuu is perhaps the worst of all worlds: it is like placing a price ceiling on attractiveness: everyone above a 5 becomes a 5 by wearing one, but no one below a 5 can become more attractive by wearing one… I’m told that no one on campus wore this before Friday, and that it was some kind of spontaneous mass early adoption. Some wore them with bows. Some wore them with belt buckles. Why? WHY??? Try a google image search on muumuu: do you notice a theme? People in muumuus look (a) very, very large, (b) very, very large and pregnant, or (c) very, very large and male. One of the pictures even has a cow wearing a muumuu. If you have a figure, or anything even close to resembling an approximation of a figure, why would you destroy it so thoughtlessly? Surely there are other ways to feel comfortable on a breezy day? What happened to the summer dress? The bikini top? Even a t-shirt?

To avoid sounding sexist, I’ll concede that Vandy men’s fashion looks just as dumb. But Vandy frat boys always look dumb, so this isn’t really news.

In the meantime, my mental image of Vanderbilt women is going to be marred for a long time by the infamous King Size Homer.


In Soviet Russia, hipsters work the fields

I deleted the previous post because I missed the ironic message behind this shirt. But I’m still not sure how to interpret it…

Mass starvation is neat

Obviously a play on the Red campaign. But it’s either being oddly harsh on that or way too flippant with Communism. What’s the deal?

[Via Mighty Goods.]

[Update: The most charitable interpretation I can come up with is that the shirt is saying that by tying our purchases to ethical causes, consumer capitalism has sort of come around to Communism. This is lame though. Capitalism isn’t anti-charity any more than Communism is pro-exchange. So what’s the point?

Radley has confronted the obliviousness behind “Soviety chic” in the past. See here and here for two good posts on how it trivializes atrocities that ought to be better remembered.]

[Update 1/1/07: Related: Target pulls Che CD cases off shelves.]


Winter boots? Ugg!

Judging by the frequency with which the word “Ugg” is showing up on the list of search phrases that lead people to my website, winter must be coming on fast. For example, the list includes the search phrase “sorority ugg” (which should really read “Sorority? Ugh!” But I digress…). As a caution to my Vanderbilt friends, I note that the list also includes the phrase “ugg nashville,” so it appears that the Vandy sorority girls are once again looking to acquire these pastel travesties for the coming winter season.

One searcher found the site with the question “Can I still wear uggs in 2005?” As she will have hopefully learned from my previous post on the subject, the answer is a resounding “no.” Wearing them in 2004 was regrettable, but wearing them in 2005 would be criminal. If you must insist on looking fashionably silly in the new year, your best bet is to wear a poncho instead.

In fact, the poncho trend seems to have already sown some confusion among the Ugg wearers, as evidenced in the search phrase “ugg gaucho boots women.” No no no no no! Gauchos don’t wear Uggs, they wear ponchos! Come on now, did Clint Eastwood wear powder blue emu boots with fluffy lining in A Fistful of Dollars? Of course not, he only dressed like that off the set.

The same goes for the person looking for “ugg american indian.” Ugg boots are an invention of the Aussies, and she’d better remember that — they get a little testy when people forget.

Finally, as a parting fashion tip from Eternal Recurrence, please don’t ever wear Uggs and ponchos together. The culture clash is just too much to bear and unless you possess the macho-panache (panacho?) of Clint Eastwood, you just won’t be able to pull it off.