Tel Aviv’s Exalted Bellboy Bar Opens a Berlin Outpost

If you’re Berlin or Tel Aviv, the last thing you want to hear is, “we’re going into lockdown again.” Both cities draw millions of visitors every year, and quite a lot of them are coming to push on through ’til morning, taking advantage of nightlife scenes that make what goes on at New York’s trendster hood Bushwick look like an evening with The Golden Girls.

One of the people most responsible for keeping up the decadent reputation of the latter is Ariel Leizgold, who launched the Bellboy Bar there in 2014, and has since achieved legendary status, being named Israel’s “Best Bartender” an impressive nine times. (Though we can’t seem to get that math to add up.) His Bellboy Group now includes the Butler (tucked into a “hidden” room at the Bellboy), as well as Felix, Fantastic, and 223, all located in central Tel Aviv. But in December he at last made the intercontinental jump to Europa, with the opening of a new outpost of Bellboy Bar in Berlin’s perpetually hip Mitte district.

Of course, this was all accomplished while the fear of a wildly spreading new virus variant held the international community decisively in its grip. But indications that Omicron might just burn itself out quickly do bode more optimistically for those making their living appealing to the hedonistic tendencies of Germany’s capital.

But Bellboy isn’t courting techno heads – rather, it’s exactly the kind of sophisticated but just provocative enough bar/lounge we’ve come to most appreciate in our post-dancing-days. Styled – by London’s Saar Zafrir Design – seemingly somewhere between an opulent 18th Century French brothel and a proper English gentlemen’s club, a glance around the main room takes in lavish chandeliers, sumptuous wall coverings, gothic candelabras reflecting against baroque framed mirrors, plus a luxurious marble bar and fireplace lit with candles, all under a striking, original coffered ceiling.

Curiosities abound, with a few eerie looking dolls, miniature mannequins, and a vintage radio carefully placed to create a visual effect that suggests perhaps the living room of your eccentric old Transylvanian uncle. There’s also a separate Pink Room, and the requisite Butler bar tucked secretly away in an adjacent space.

As for the epicurean offerings, there are sophisticated bites on the menu, kingfish carpaccio, roasted zucchini tzatziki, pork belly w/ pomegranate glaze – as well as the intriguingly named Bellboy Luxury Chicken Nuggets. But as this is a Leizgold joint, the cocktail program is the real star, divided into categories titles like Herbal, Fruity, Sour, Complex and Boozy (definitely our favorite).

But this is absolutely not just another case of a “twenty ways to misuse aperol and bitters” drinks menu. Indeed, to properly convey the level of creativity at work, here are just a few of the head-spinning highlights: Ballroom Beauty (Bellboy Pink Pepper Mulberry Vodka, Basil Leaves, Lemon, Ginger Syrup, Raspberry Syrup, Soda Water, Blackberry Vinegar); Supergrass (Cazadores Blanco Tequila, Bellboy Citrus Honey, Yuzucello, Fresh Wheatgrass, Lime, Apple Cider); Josephine’s Pet (Frapin 1270 Cognac w/ Blue Cheese, Mandarine Napoleon, Citrus Honey, Lime, Poppy Seeds); and the Boulevardier (Michter’s Rye, Frapin 1920 Cognac, Bellboy Cherry Amaro, Sweet Vermouth, Campari, Chocolate Diamond, Absinthe Spray). Mixologically impressive, to put it mildly.

For a certain sort of traveler (like us), the Bellboy is literally the sort of bar that makes you hop a flight just to experience it. And Berlin is pretty much exactly where we need to be once the real dangers of this long coronavirus crisis are decisively behind us – in hopes of partying away two years of fear and anxiety. We’ll catch you in the Pink Room.

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