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One Night In Berlin Makes A Hard Man Humble

Punch Drunk columnist Jack Lauterback blogs from Europe's premiere bar convention.



October 4, 2010 — 2:30 a.m.

Rolling into Berlin on zero sleep, zero knowledge of how to do a damn thing in Europe (make calls, plug in things, order food that isn't shit, etc.) and innumerable fuckings by the airline gods over the previous two days can make a man want to throw in the towel. So I got to my room and sulked for a bit...

Then I stopped being a little girl when I remembered that I was in Berlin and surrounded by booze. Dammit Jack! Go get a drink!

Here are my observations from day one as an 'embedded blogger' (Or as I like to call myself, 'an embedded drink free-loader'):

- Bar Convent Berlin is the real deal. I got a pre-tour before it gets kicked into high gear tomorrow and it became obvious that Mixology Mag is not some half assed bartender trade publication. This thing is a juggernaut of influence here in Europe. The supplier participation alone (Diageo, Bacardi, etc) tells me that Helmut Adam (the publisher/editor of Mixology) is a man who can bring out the big guns, and a man who probably drives a Ferrari and cavorts with many buxom German super-models.

- Two of the first people I met upon arrival were Dale Degroff and David Wondrich, the two men that bartenders and cocktail writers everywhere tend to revere. It was humbling because I'm just some snot-nosed kid and they're in the rarified air of drink royality. Lucky for me though not all cocktail snobs are snobs in real life, and these two proved that with their kindness. Plus they can drink! They both showed up later to the hotel than me, and I know this because they just walked past me in the lobby as I'm writing this blog post. At least I got embarassed and out-partied by the best in the business. No shame in that.



Bar Tausend

- Apparently Germany is still reeling from the Treaty Of Versailles because the first bar (Leydicke) that Helmut took our crew to was straight out of the Weimar Republic. This place had shell holes in the walls. All they served was a Pilsner, flavored shots of Peach Schnapps (??) and this egg yolk infused crud called Eierlikoer. The bar itself was charming, but I only say that because I like bars that are divey and dirty.  These last few sentences were entirely inappropiate as I'm being paid to write on this site, so I'll say something positive: I lost my phone in the cab on the way there and Helmut got it back for me.... I'm telling you people, this dude runs Berlin... Sports cars, hoes, you name it...

- The next bar we went to was called The Rum Trader. It had 8 seats at the bar and all of the hardcore cocktailians I was with seemed to love it. I admit that it was sort of hip and I could totally see myself popping in there for a drink if I lived here. One thing I noticed was that there were almost as many employees working at this bar as there were customers. Literally, there were 15 of us and about 10 of them for a bar the size of my bathroom. The service, drinks and food were impeccable, but how the hell do all these bartenders/servers make any money? Europe confuses me.

- The last place Helmut guided us to was a place called Tausend. It rocked. A great band was crushing it, 'The Traveling Mixologists' were bartending like badasses and the atmosphere was electric. Granted it was packed and one could barely move, but who cares? Hang out at home if you can't handle dealing with people. My one gripe is that Helmut should have paid for 30 or so hookers to hang out there because it was a knockwurst fest, but oh well, when in Germany you eat sausage, and that's that.

Okay stop listening to me, I'm drunkhaused. Check back tomorrow as the blogging fools and I will be live-blogging the first day of Bar Convent Berlin. Can't wait!

Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback is covering Bar Convent for Mixology magazine, at mixology.eu. He writes the biweekly bar column, Punch Drunk, for Style Weekly, slings drinks at a number of local establishments and pens a surly blog at http://jackgoesforth.blogspot.com. Find him on Twitter @jackgoesforth. Have a question or comment for the bartender? E-mail: bartender@styleweekly.com.

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