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Buck & Breck

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Brunnenstra├če 177, 10119 Berlin

PRESIDENTS CAN BE FICKLE BEASTS. But, while Buck & Breck may be named after former US president James Buchanan and his vice-president John Breckinridge, fickleness is not the case here. As owner Gonçalo de Souza Monteiro puts it: “When somebody comes into a bar and has a drink, they appreciate it and want to have it next time. So why would we keep making changes?”

This consistency is one of many factors that contribute to the double B’s success and since 2011 it has evoked a special feeling among Berlin’s barflies. 

But within the small, dark room enclosing the bar, 14 seats and a barman, there are paradoxes. For sure, Buck & Breck has a classic vibe. You’re welcomed by a doorman, and on your departure escorted to the door. That’s traditional hospitality. So is the fact your glass of water is always more than half-full. Mobile phones are banned. The crack team of bartenders leave you be. Then there’s the menu – it’s made up of the classics done right, with only the subtlest of twists.

Yet there’s discreet cheekiness in the air. The Theo Ligthart-curated artwork in the front window is always changing. On a recent visit, a chainsaw hung on the back wall, with a taxidermy octopus perched under a bell jar. And the descriptions on the bar menu stretch from the obvious (‘pick me up’) to befuddling (‘escapadistically’).

Buck & Breck succeeds in its tenacious juggling act. It’s classic but not stiff. Friendly but not invasive. That’s how it has become Berlin’s hottest bar and a mainstay of The World’s 50 Best Bars.