Trained photographer Rik Lusing never meant to open a bar — but the universe had other ideas. After meeting American pub owner John Cooper in France, the pair bonded over a love of unique spirits and decided Berlin needed a tasting bar for the finest distillates. 800 craft spirits later, their cosy Mitte establishment is a veritable library of concoctions — including the city’s biggest selection of jenever: the Dutch national drink.
Rik Lusing always keeps a little bit of home on the shelf: 25 different kinds of jenever adorn the beautifully-lit shelves of Beavis Bar. This juniper spirit made with malted barley, an early form of gin, has its origins in the Netherlands. There and in Belgium, the spirit is as familiar as Korn liquor in Germany. The young man from the Netherlands has something interesting and exciting to say about every bottle.
For Lusing, his national drink was the logical point of departure for an odyssey through the world of hard spirits. He has since tasted his way though products from some of world’s most remote distilleries. “I had never really considered owning a bar,” says the trained photographer, who was born near Nijmegen.
He moved to France in 2012 and made his way to the tourist town of Étretat in Normandy. There he worked in a pub run by American proprietor Jon Cooper. Their shared passion for unique sprits led them to Berlin, which seemed the right place to enact their plan to open a tasting bar that would focus solely on the distillate itself: pure, unadulterated spirit.
In Summer 2018, the two opened the Beavis Bar on Veteranenstrasse near Weinbergspark. Visually, the small space is reminiscent of a library; the fine spirits occupying the upper shelves are only accessible by ladder. As bartenders and curators in one, Rik Lusing and Jon Cooper have collected 800 craft spirits from all corners of the globe — from Japanese grappa to ancient Spanish brandy. “Everything is sourced and imported directly from small producers,” assures Rik Lusing.
Their work earned them a renowned ‘Craft Spirits Award’ at the Destille Festival, and Beavis was named best ‘Farm-to-Shaker’ bar. “It was a bit confusing,” laughs Rik Lusing, “because we don’t mix cocktails, so we don’t have any shakers.” But the rest is true: All of their drinks come directly from the people who made them. And of course, numbering among that proud milieu are more varieties of jenever than you can sample anywhere else in the city.
All photos by Lena Ganssmann
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