Eat, Drink & Have an Aviation at Wagner Cocktail Bistro
Bars with food, restaurants with tasteful cocktails: I love the holistic approach of serving all the things I need for my culinary pleasure in one place. Small delicious plates and elegant cocktails are a harmonious mixture. It is a playground for chefs and bartenders alike and also for the Barstalker.
Wagner Cocktail Bistro is a modern bistro concept orchestrating food and drinks in a sophisticated way. Seven months after their opening I found my way to Kreuzberg where Wagner is idyllically located next to the Landwehrkanal. They have an outdoor area offering a cosy beer garden feeling where you can enjoy their tasty treats. Inside the brick building Wagner’s interior is cool, casual and stylish. The light-flooded room reminded me of an open-plan living space. The impression is supported by the use of raw materials such as brick, wood and metal. Warm lightning adds some cosiness, privacy is created by dividing the room into three zones. There is a small gallery area with tables and chairs which functions as the dining area, a high table surrounded by bar stools at the window offering up to eight seats, and the bar counter with a few more seats.
The place has a casual charm and a nice mix of industrial and loft style.
The bar counter has its own, unusual concept.
I felt more like I was in a sushi place at first, where you sit on a normal chair with your own small table in front of you and the original bar counter further up. Indeed, the design of the bar counter is inspired by the Japanese tradition Omakase that means literally “I will leave it to you” and letting a chef choose your order. This is one of the latest trends in the US. Transferred to Wagner it means that you can easily take your drinks from the higher level bar counter. However, the good thing: you have a perfect view of the bartenders’ hands doing their magic. At the same time the bartender can easily observe the whole room. Frankly, it took me a while to get used to.
My adventure started in the early evening right after work and lasted until midnight: always a good indicator of a wonderful experience. A few days earlier I went to Wagner for the first time to attend an event performed by Linie Aquavit. In addition to the great concept of the venue the bartender caught my attention. Three years ago, that same bartender delighted my taste buds and I recognised him right away. Tuan Anh Nguyen worked in some renowned bars and you can notice this in his work and hand-picked selection of spirits on the shelves.
Small plates to share are harmoniously mixed with excellent crafted cocktails. A Cocktailbistro, simple as that!
The food is down-to-earth, solid and seasonal. Simplicity is not a trend, it is a philosophy. The bread & butter was perfect, the right crust served with whipped butter. The rest of the cold plates I had were simply morish. Next time I am going to try out the warm plates. That’s for sure.
A quick look at the shelves behind the bar stocked with well-selected craft spirits already promised a sensory adventure. The drinks are clever, well-composed and perfectly executed. The cocktail list is divided into four categories: tight, slick, fancy and classy.
To cool down a bit I started with a Highball from the fancy category where Helsinki Akvavit, Amaro and bitters meet Soda. To stick with the Finnish theme, I opted next for the Fiskehamns, which means fishing port. The concoction combines White Dog Straight Rye, extra dry Vermouth, Amaro and bitters. It is served in a tumbler with a hand-carved ice cube. The touch of bitterness treated my taste buds nicely and a clear ice cube is always a feast for the eyes. My favourite of the night was the Zatoichi: Old English Gin marries the floral notes of Umeshi Rosé Sake with Fino Sherry and a small measure of coffee spirit. It is served in an unchilled glass to let the aroma develop. My favourite bars have good drinks, spirit(s) and personality. Check, found another place to be in Berlin.
Today, more and more bars and restaurants are focused on sustainability. Backbars highlight responsibly-made, high-quality spirits and also the interest in natural wine is growing. The availability of craft products is on the up.
Wagner has managed to realise a new Zeitgeist of eating and fine drinking in a relaxed way.
1 overflowing barspoon homemade Maraschino (mix of cherry Eau de Vie with gomme 1:8)
2 cl lemon
5.2 cl Plymouth Gin
less than a barspoon Bigallet Crème de Violette
1-2 sprays of lavender oil solution
Shake with a lemon zest, fine strain and serve in a nice Libbey Embassy cocktail glass without any garnish. Well worth trying.
Visit Wagner Cocktail Bistro
to be continued …