Opened in 1968 in the Europa Center just off Kurfürstenstraße, Hotel Palace Berlin is one of the city’s few luxury hotels that’s been privately owned by the same family for three generations. Karl Heinz Pepper, who built both the Europa Center and the hotel, was inspired by Rockefeller Center in New York City and wanted to build something similar in Germany. In its original state, the hotel opened with 188 rooms, along with banquet halls, an ice skating rink, a restaurant, a grill, and a cocktail bar, though not the same one you'll find there now.
These days, the hotel is known for its House of Gin, which was added in 2015. While you might expect a gin-focused bar in England or Scotland, it’s quite unusual in Berlin—a status that has earned it a cult following among gin-loving locals and visitors alike. The bar stocks 150 different varieties from around the world with a focus of craft spirits from Germany. “I would say in the last eight years, the German gin market exploded,” says the hotel’s bar manager, Sebastian Jaroljmek, explaining that Germans have been making schnapps for centuries, so distillers have the knowledge, experience, and equipment needed to make gin.
I love to do these kinds of gin tastings because for me it’s the opportunity to talk about my favorite spirit.
“In Germany we work with regional products, so there are gins from wine regions that work with Riesling grapes. They have the same type of sourness one would find in a Riesling wine,” he says, adding that many producers work with local botanicals to make high quality German gin. Of course, the bar also has a selection of gins from England, the U.S., Australia, Austria, Russia, Norway, Spain, Portugal, France, Scotland, and Ireland. They stock a wide selection of tonics, like Swiss Mountain Spring Tonic and other specialty brands, including one flavored with cherry blossoms.
Guests who want to learn more about the world of craft gin can do a tasting with Sebastian, who guides samplings of three, four, or five different gins served neat, over ice, or as a gin and tonic. “I love to do these kinds of gin tastings because for me it’s the opportunity to talk about my favorite spirit,” he gushes. An aficionado of the botanical booze himself, Sebastian has visited distilleries in Germany and England. Back in Berlin, he likes to infuse gin with strawberries and other ingredients to create his own house-made concoctions.
Looking for something other than gin? No problem. Sebastian and the rest of the hotel’s bar team can shake up whatever you desire. Rather than giving you a menu without further guidance, they typically begin with a conversation about what you like and don’t like before suggesting a cocktail. “We need our time with the guests and we take the time,” Sebastian says. “We try to guide each guest and figure out which cocktail would be the best for them.”
To learn more about Hotel Palace Berlin or the House of Gin, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.