The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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Atalay Aktas’ My Destiny

Atalay Aktas represented Germany at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Schwarze Traube is a speakeasy-style kneipe in Berlin that opened in July 2012. It’s made a good impression on Kreuzberg’s booming bar scene, having won best newcomer from Zitty magazine (of Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel). Co-owner Atalay Aktas describes the atmosphere as noble trash: ‘It took us three and a half months to get it looking so trashy,’ he explains, ‘there are three small rooms, eclectically furnished but with a dignified air.’ There’s no menu at Schwarze Traube – drinks are based on whatever is best at market that day – there are often little tapas-style food pairings and presentation rituals lean to the ethereal.

You’ll have to knock three times and smile to get past the innocuous door into this shabby chic speakeasy. You need to know about it to get there, so make sure you get in while there’s space, ideally in the ‘Birdcage’ room.

The Bartender

The 32-year-old had worked in the bar industry for fourteen years – latterly at Salut! and Felix – before opening Schwarze Traube with a friend. He lauds bartenders Mike Meinke and Alexander Scanlan for raising standards in Germany. ‘I think I was born to do my job,’ Atalay explains, ‘skills develop over time, but you need the heart and soul to be a bartender. You should love it, want to put passion into it – people see that and they taste it.’ A life-long resident of Kreuzberg, he loves the multicultural and friendly vibe of the area.

The Drink

My Destiny is a typical Atalay offering with its infused base of Ketel One vodka, in this case sprigs of rosemary and thyme are added to the vodka for a couple of days: ‘I tried at first with a vodka sour, but it progressed, that’s the way drinks are shaped.’ The drink is presented with a poem. ‘Sometimes I have a story, sing a song or tell a joke to accompany a drink, it’s normally something verbal,’ he explains, ‘Or I edit the music for the effect or feel I want – music and language are two things that can convey the sentiment of the drink. It has a body, but needs a soul, and the poem was the soul.’

The Technique

Ketel One (infused with rosemary and thyme) • 50ml
Fresh lime juice • 30ml
Agave syrup • 20ml
Ground black pepper (to garnish)
Contains 16 grams of alcohol per serve

Mash all the ingredients in a shaker. Double strain into a tumbler with one large ice cube. Garnish with the pepper, and a poem (optional!).

Schwarze Traube has a cosy feel, warmhearted service and different drinks to sample every night. Everything has been well thought through and considered here, and the effect is a rather kooky and holistic approach to a night out.

Atalay’s Insider’s Guide to Berlin

Place to stay
Michelberger Hotel

Place to eat
Der Goldene Hahn

Place to relax
Admiralbrüke (on a summer evening)

Place to lounge
Salut! Bar

Place to Dance

Place to shop
Markthalle IX

Place to visit
Kater Holzig

Place to see

Images by Thang Dai