Forgive Friedrichshain: Primitiv Bar

By Andrew Cottrill . November 27, 2013

A mix of photos from Simon Dach Strasse

As a denizen of Berlin’s quaint inner-city dorf, Simon Dach Kiez, I’ve noticed a lot of people have written it off as a tourist resort.

In a recent article I read, I found the following passage:

“I know that a lot of hip people somehow despise Friedrichshain and see it as too touristy to go out there.”

Well, whether you’re hip people, square people, or hip-to-be-square people, I think it’s time we collectively give F-hain another chance. It’s time we Forgive Friedrichshain.

So I’m going to be spending some time celebrating the little glimmers of light that shine out from within the touristy dirge and make this kiez continue to be a great place to live.

Take Primitiv bar, for example.

Primitiv Bar Berlin
A bar so hip its name is unpronounceable? No silly, it’s Cyrillic!

The perennial Primitiv, with its red outdoor chairs made of something like old clothes lines (which are surprisingly comfortable), and its cosy interior glowing red through a thick layer of smoke.

The bar attracts a multi-national crowd and has a Russian/glamorous ’20s chic to it. On weekends the DJ spins rockabilly, swing, soul and old rock ‘n’ roll music, leading the back room to erupt into dancing.

It’s the place where “Just one beer” turns into a million. It’s like “Cheers” but the drinking doesn’t get sidetracked by the madcap antics of a pack of Bostonites… and not everybody knows your name.

It’s one of those smoking bars that amplifies your smoking tenfold, enabling you to Bogart your way through a whole pack of cigarettes in no time. And the bar’s cheap. €1.50 for a glass of wine, €3.50 for a bier vom fass. The cocktails are to kill for.

Speaking of cocktails, let me focus on the best of them all: The White Russian.

Primitiv make the best White Russians I’ve ever had. The alcohol is good and plentiful. They shake the cream with ice so hard it becomes thick enough to land a plane on. Take your straw and stir – but not too much. You want a nice contingent of pure, unadulterated alcohol at the bottom, and a delicious coffee and cream cloud at the top to retreat to whilst you regroup.

The question “would you like milk or cream?” is perhaps one of the most pointless questions since “do you want a single or a double?” If you want milk, get a milkshake.

Anyway, back to the blog.

On the second Sunday of every month, Primitiv hosts a Burlesque show in its snug back room. Since last month’s jaunt to Berlin’s Venus event, my life has been lacking girls dancing, tastefully or otherwise. With this in mind, you’ll find me at the next one, with a White Russian or seven, smoking my way through a pack of whatever’s cheap.

Friedrichshain. Berlin loves you.

Simon-Dach-Str. 28
10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain


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