DAS GIFT, BERLIN
During a research trip around Central and Eastern Europe, I arranged to take time out to meet up with my friend, Felix, a music producer from Berlin. As I was unfamiliar with the city, I left it to him to make the arrangements and he messaged me the address of Das Gift, a bar on the corner of Donaustraße and Weichselstraße.
Arriving off the U-Bahn, I made my way down a quiet side street and was welcomed by the sight of a 'We will always love EU' sign in a window. Realising that this was my desination, I entered the door to a friendly nod from the barman and immediatley spotted the familiar blue and orange colours of Irn Bru in the fridge behind him. Of course I had to have a can so, drink in hand, I wandered into the dimly-lit back room and settled in the corner awaiting Felix's arrival. With it's wooden walls and candle-lit tables, the place had a laid-back, arty feel and I felt quite at ease sitting alone in this unfamiliar place. As I glanced around the room my eyes were drawn to the noticeboard which advertised some Scottish beers and spirits - and a Scottish breakfast on a Sunday. There were also some framed prints of Scottish bands on the walls and I now realised why Felix had picked this spot. Although I wasn't aware of the significance at the time, the artwork around the room hinted at the owner's background.
When Felix turned up, he explained the musical - and Scottish - connections. It turned out that Das Gift (meaning "The Poison" in German) is owned by Glaswegian artist Rachel Burns and her musician husband Barry, a member of Scottish post-rock group Mogwai. As well as bringing a little snippet of Scotland to the pub scene in Berlin, one of the main attractions of the bar is their famous jukebox which houses playlists compiled by some of the couple's musician and artist friends including: Robert Smith (The Cure), Sam Fogarino (Interpol), The Twilight Sad, Remember Remember, Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), Malcolm Middleton (Arab Strap), and writer, John Niven. The pub also holds regular quizzes, art exhibitions, auctions, and music events.
With another two months planned on the road, it was nice to get a little taste of home, so top marks to Felix for his choice of meeting place. My only regret was missing out their Scottish Breakfast, but at least it gives me an excuse to go back and visit again at some point.
Das Gift is located at Donaustraße 119, 12043 Berlin, Germany