Most bars offer a place to get drunk, but Ratzeputz bar also offers a place to get smart. And make friends.
Every Sunday night in Neukölln, English speakers with inquiring minds assemble on Weserstraße at Ratzeputz, a charm-worn cocktail bar, for “More Questions Than Answers,” Berlin’s most notorious quiz night.
Written, hosted and scored by bar owners Rob Shaw and Honor Kennedy, the evening’s rounds of queries are incredibly varied, ranging from the all accessible “General Knowledge” to often esoteric “Random Round” to the frequently confounding “Picture Round.”
Teams of no larger than six players compete for a chance to blind-choose one of three prizes: a cash jackpot upwards of 100 euros, a round of free drinks or “absolutely nothing.”
Players can expect several fun surprises, including “spot prizes” of free shots for particularly difficult questions and in a move of ultimate grace, whoever comes in last place also receives a round of free shots.
You gotta have friends
While the quiz itself is challenging, compelling and exciting, “More Questions Than Answers” also offers something ultimately more valuable than a chance to be smart in public: an easy way to make new friends!
When I first arrived in Berlin in October 2020, I knew absolutely no one and pretty much nothing. I had secured a month-long AirBnb, a place in an MA Filmmaking Course and a promising job interview to bartend at a funky bar near Hermannplatz called Ratzeputz.
Full Disclosure: Yes, I work at Ratzeputz and am writing a glowing review of this establishment. As astute readers, you might object to a conflict of interest; as a professional cocktail bartender, I can assure you that I never work anywhere for very long that I wouldn’t highly recommend to strangers or spend a lot of time hanging out in myself.
The interview went pretty well, I was invited for a trial shift the following weekend and to hang out and play “The Quiz” the next night. I arrived a bit early and was welcomed to play with a veteran team. Within minutes I had exchanged Whatsapp numbers with new buddies who also moved to Berlin from far away. Over the following weeks, I played the quiz more and also snagged more contacts, more people who were genuinely interested in making new friends.
Happily, I was invited to officially start working there but then the Great Viral Interruption Of Our Times reared its ugly crown (again) and the bar shut down until June 2021, when Berlin nightlife awoke from its long slumber, like a giant, booze-breathing dragon.
Suddenly, the weather was beautiful, things were open and I found myself back behind the stick on Weserßstrase. To say that things roared back to life would be an understatement; night after night Ratz was packed with ecstatic imbibers, many of whom loudly proclaimed “This is my favorite bar!”
The Ratzeputz vibe
The vibe at Ratzeputz is a perfect blend of fine cocktail bar and low key, rough around the edges saloon. The large front room flanked by textured walls and exposed brick offers ample seating at small and medium tables as well as plush couches to lounge in which always have a copy of The New Yorker resting on them for the ostentatious East Coast USA set. Just past the gorgeous bar (designed and built by the owners) and softly lit by orange, warm, hanging lights are two back rooms, both which offer guests a tiny bit more privacy from the action up front.
Yes, you can get a truly amazing, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind drink and no, it will not cost 13 euros. Yes you will get truly great service and no, you will not feel like you are at an uptight stuffy cocktail museum and/or magic show.
• One should not leave an initial Ratzeputz visit without trying a shot of the infamous Ratzeputz Schnapps: intense, ice-cold ginger liqueur with a hair raising 58 percent ABV.
• Also worth sampling are the homemade Arbol Chili Infused Whiskys which come in 3 strengths: Full of Grace, Hail Mary and The Lord Is With Thee.
• Not to mention the seasonal rotating menu of cocktails with original recipes and homemade infusions.
But what makes Ratzeputz (and especially quiz night) a true gem is its ability to facilitate friendships. On any given quiz night the crowd will contain a mixture of native German speakers and people from all other corners of the globe, all brought together to share their love of Knowing About Random Stuff. One can very easily come to Berlin knowing no one, go to “More Questions Than Answers,” ask to join a team that has room and end up drinking and hanging well after the quiz ends and into the wee hours.
The Ratz Quiz serves then not just as a place to get a drink and take advantage of WiFi but as an insider’s launchpad for a less ordinary evening out.
About the author:
Chris Loar is a comedian and artist living in Berlin. He was born in Torrance, California and called Brooklyn, New York home for 16 years before moving to Germany in 2020. A multi-hyphenate creator, Chris is also a passionate movie maker, Yoga teacher and cocktail bartender.
Follow him on Instagram at chrisloarcomedy
See more of Chris’s Berlin work diary here.
Read more on Dispatches’ Berlin archive here.