Sharlie Cheen: Because Life isn’t All Smoke and Broken Mirrors
By Andrew Cottrill . June 13, 2017
“All these Berlin bars are shit!”, Sharlie Cheen bar owner Dustin Render began our interview.
He then went on to trash everything I look for in a bar: the crappy makeshift furniture, torn sofas, flea market oil paintings, bad lighting, broken mirrors, graffiti, the Paris-Accord-violating levels of air pollution. “People deserve to drink somewhere nice. That’s what I’ve made here.”
Dustin’d rendered me speechless. Because, that’s what we look for in a bar, right? Right? BLYers?
And then I thought: maybe not everyone likes €2.50 beer after €2.50 beer. Maybe not everyone likes their whole wardrobe smelling like a fire at the Malboro factory. Maybe not everyone considers korn a viable option. There’s a brave new world out there, Susan, and it’s called Sharlie Cheen.
Sharlie Cheen is a chic cocktail bar at Rosenthaler Platz. It’s an extension of local hotel lobbies on weeknights, a more colourful spot for an after-work cocktail than the bar at the Ibis across the street. It comes alive at the weekend, with groups, girls, dancing and being seen. It’s become somewhat famous as the Berlin destination for Tinder dates – a fact that Dustin and his staff are proud to recount – and it’s easy to see why, with its cool ambiance, mood lighting and geometric Berlin artwork, this is a place suited to meeting someone, especially someone you don’t know too well.
And, the cocktails are good. Great. Very reasonably priced considering the skill that goes into making them (hovering around the €8-€10 mark is certainly affordable). The spirits they use are premium but predictable (more boutique labels would push the price to the €15 mark) but I don’t care too much about that. They’re good and I can get an egg-white cocktail for less than €10 so I’m satisfied. Try the “I Can’t Feel My Face” – the salt in the egg white numbs your lips whilst the heavy dose of whisky numbs everything else.
There’s no smoking at Sharlie Cheen. And the reason why is intriguing. Their success with Tinder dates might not be coincidental. There’s something about the Sharlie Cheen boys that tells me they wanted to create a pick-up bar from the start, a place to attract smart, young professional men and women to meet over something other than a dingy candle and a Club Mate. The bar they probably wished they’d had when they were 17 and horny. Well, it turns out that smoking = less women. And if you want a bar serving as many cocktail dresses as cocktails, you gotta cut that smoking out!
Gentrification will come for my Eck Kneipe, and soon I’ll be paying €4 to drink Pilsner Urquell off that same torn sofa. But there’s an honesty to Sharlie Cheen. It understands that shabby-chic is a lie. It knows that trends come and go. And it knows that there will always be people who want to enjoy a reasonably-priced but good cocktail, wearing nice clothes and in a nice, smoke-free environment with lively music. Sharlie Cheen is a skyscraper in Singapore. It’s an illuminated jacuzzi. It’s those massage chairs in airports and it’s Haagen Dazs ice cream. It’s Lady GaGa. It was born that way.
Sharlie Cheen Bar
U-Bahn Rosenthaler Platz