In the warm summers of Hamburg, the bars are neglected for a beer at the kiosk and the view of the Elbe. That was not the case for The Chug Club, an intimate cocktail bar safely cached on a side street away from the Kiez. Every night it was filled, the patrons loyal to a bar that treats them as a friend.
Hospitality and consistency is key, Betty the owner of The Chug Club says. Upon entering you are greeted at the door, given a glass of water and seated. Immediately you see the difference and why her bar continues to be successful since opening its doors last autumn. Betty, an Austrian transplant and a naturalized Hamburg native, has a fascinating background from marketing to communication psychology to bartender. She is warm, connection oriented, focused and passionate about her vision. You can see from the employees that work there, her commitment to the guests and their experience are echoed.
The menu is her own creation and it centers around tequila. She says tequila is the most interesting spirit, the agave plant needing seven years worth of Mexican sun and soil to grow. She stocks over twenty different types and produces such drinks like the house Buttermilk Margarita, a delicious mix of tequila, buttermilk, agave syrup, lime, lemon, and quinze jelly. A chug is a 1/3 of a regular drink, something even the most weary of cocktail drinkers can handle. The best is to do the five chugs with a beer interruption, that way you can try different cocktails and not feel overwhelmed. If you want to try a traditional Mexican drinking ritual, order the Bandera (a deconstructed shot): it comes in three glasses, one of lime, blanco tequila, and sangrita taken in that order. Everything is house made so the experience is exceptionally original.
Betty is resilient, determined, and warm. You can see the twenty year old she was, moving to Hamburg with a tiny suitcase and settling in a tinier room. She worked her way to degrees and bartended in such Hamburg institutions like Le Lion.
The Chug Club is a personification of her: a well run cocktail bar that introduces you to all things tequila and the cultural ties it comes with. She speaks perfect English, welcomes you as if you were family, and remains consistent in service and quality. You can’t ask for anything better in Hamburg.
Look out for the “spar verein”. Its a red box left behind from the previous owners containing 40 coin slots for those regular members to save some money. Its an old German institution which is now used for fun!
*The Chug Club keeps consistent hours, unlike most bars in Hamburg. Never feel the tug of a closed door when you visit expecting it to be open.
The Chug Club
Taubenstraße 13, 20359 Hamburg
Phone: +49 (0) 40 357 351 30
Facebook: The Chug Club