Christian Gentemann has travelled a long way since starting out as a young bartender on board a cruise ship, travelling the world and learning and refining his trade on the way on the high seas. Now, he’s brought all of his experience to Bar am Steinplatz, one of two Society partner bars in Berlin.
“The time on the cruise ship shaped me a lot,” says Christian. “I worked with people from different cultures and we were all able to learn from each other. Seeing many parts of the world, gathering impressions and getting to know another country or city almost every day, helped to take me a long way.”
Christian returned to dry land and after working at locations including Berlin’s renowned Lebensstern bar he was able to bring all of his experience to bear at Bar am Steinplatz. The bar opened in the renovated Art Nouveau-style hotel Hotel am Steinplatz in Charlottenburg in West Berlin in 2013. The building itself oozes 1920s style, originally constructed as a luxury hotel and subsequently seeing service as a stately home, officers’ mess, artists’ bar and retirement home before a complete restoration saw it return to its original function.
The sense of Art Nouveau style extends to the bar, which celebrated winning the Hotel Bar of the Year in the Mixology Bar Awards competition last October, one of the most prestigious awards in European bar culture. Even more notable, it was the second time in a row for Bar am Steinplatz to win the accolade.
The bar’s cocktails include innovative creations featuring both regional specialties and international influences. Don’t expect a conventional menu, though – Bar am Steinplatz’s cocktails are listed on a beautifully illustrated menu without names but with a description of ingredients and flavours.
“We didn’t want to go for non-descript cocktail names,” says Christian. “Instead we want the ingredients to speak for themselves, and arouse curiosity for something new and to encourage discovery and reflection.”
Now, a selection of Society whiskies also play a key role behind the bar in offering guests a different experience, as well as generating conversation and discussion.
“As an SMWS partner bar, we now have the opportunity to give our guests access to the Society’s unique whiskies and the moments of unique enjoyment they can bring,” says Christian. “I also like the Society’s concept of being a member of a community, exchanging thoughts and experiences, and getting to know new whisky enthusiasts.
“Our guests ask for the Society whiskies and want to know what they are if they aren’t already familiar with the green bottles. We use the Society’s unique system of flavour profiles to understand the guests’ expectations and find the most appropriate style of whisky for them.”
As well as offering Society whiskies and intriguing cocktails, Christian is also focused on serving innovative bar food, with options such as pork belly with jalapeño miso, crab churros or spicy veal ribs, created by Restaurant am Steinplatz executive chef Nicholas Hahn.
But if you’re a gin lover, there’s good and bad news – Bar am Steinplatz prides itself on being a gin-free environment.
OUR PARTNER BAR NETWORK
Bar am Steinplatz is one of almost 100 of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s partner bars around the world, where you can receive a discount on drams by producing your member card. We’re adding new partner bars all the time – for a complete list, visit smws.com