Berlin Moment: 5th November 2015

by Zoë Noble

Berlin architecture colourful buildings

Doggystyle: Emma and Doris

by Zoë Noble

Doggystyle Portrait
“I’m looking after Doris for a month.

I used to have dogs back in New Zealand, and eventually I’d like to get one here too. But back home you can have a garden and leave the back door open, and it’s a little more difficult over here. But if you’re used to having dogs, and put in the time and effort, it’s fine.

Doris is very calm, but then suddenly skits out, and gets really playful and excited. When she’s really excited, she can’t control her limbs and kind of looks like she’s having a spasm. She comes up and shakes and does this little T. rex move, and it’s really funny.

But she’s a really good family dog, really gentle, and gives lots of kisses. ”

Doggystyle Portrait

Doggystyle Portrait

Portrait: Pauline Hoch, Our/Berlin

by Guest Blogger


by Emma Robertson

“Is it too early to start drinking?” I ask upon arrival at the Our/Berlin vodka distillery in Treptow. Luckily, Pauline Hoch, one-half of Paul Sanders, the marketing agency at the helm of Our/Berlin, doesn’t think so. Laughing, she fixes me a drink: their new tea-infused vodka, a splash of tonic, ice and a tendril of orange peel. “We were on an inspirational weekend with the team at a house in the countryside when the homeowner suggested we infuse the vodka with tea,” Pauline explains, “It was genius. Then a local tea company called Paper & Tea got in touch with us unexpectedly, and we were able to collaborate. It was an effortless partnership.” Such seems to be the way with Our/Berlin vodka: they emphasise not only a sense of local camaraderie and community, but a simple, homegrown aesthetic that is the very essence of their brand.

Our/Vodka got its start in Stockholm in 2013 when a group working with Pernod Ricard came up with the idea for a global brand with local roots. After looking in the nightclub and gastronomy industry in Berlin, the team met with the Paul Sanders Agency (run by Pauline and her partner Jon Sanders). The first of many effortless partnerships, I guess. With Berlin as its flagship city, the brand has since taken on Detroit, Amsterdam, London, and Seattle as its adoptive homes. Here, the brand has evolved from more than just a simple vodka manufacturer: the team hosts infusion workshops, dinner parties, cooking classes, art exhibitions, and happy hours. After a quick tour of the distillery’s facilities, I sat down with Pauline to talk simplicity, science, space, and of course, vodka.


With wine, there is a very distinct process for evaluating and tasting. Is there a proper way to drink vodka?

Of course the Russians would say you have to drink a lot. (Laughs) Especially when you eat! I think our cultural standards are a little different here in Germany. We try to tell our customers that they should try the vodka pure and at room temperature so they can really appreciate the quality. Of course, it’s also okay to just mix it with a soft drink, Mineralwasser, or tonic. You don’t have to be an experienced bartender to make a nice drink!

And how do you drink it?

In summer, I like a strawberry margarita with vodka. But in the winter, we collaborate with Berliner Winter to make a kind of hot vodka drink with apple cider. It’s similar to a grog, and very delicious. I also really like it after dinner as a digestif, kind of like a grappa… But like I said, drinking it pure is the best way to appreciate it.

The taste is very subtle, which I think is rare for vodka.

Exactly — it’s very mild. I think vodka has a bad reputation because people think of the taste in a certain way…. Our/Vodka is not overpowering, there’s no real “flavour,” so to speak. Some people say it’s a bit lavender-ish, some say there’s a hint of lemon, but there’s nothing that we add in. We use German-local ingredients and purified Berlin Leitungswasser, so the recipe is really as simple as the concept itself. It’s funny because I have a lot of girlfriends that aren’t into drinking vodka, but they drink this vodka because it’s so smooth.


Can you explain the science behind the distilling process? What exactly happens behind closed doors here?

I’ll give you the simplified version: here in the factory, we distill the aromatic fraction that gives the flavour to Our/Vodka. This is then blended together with wheat-based ethanol, which we import from Münster, and purified Leitungswasser. When we were initially sourcing our ethanol, we found that the quality here in Berlin and Brandenburg was too poor, so we ended up importing from Münster, which is working very well for us.

But otherwise, the Our/Vodka aesthetic is very local.

Definitely. We love the sense of community here in Berlin, but we’re also expanding the “global” part of the brand as well. We were the testers, the guinea pigs, the trial. And now, they opened up Our/Detroit and Our/Seattle, and Our/Amsterdam will be opening in October. The global aspect is coming more and more together, which is super nice because we were always feeling a little alone over here — we were the first European city for Our/Vodka, so we’re very much looking forward to having our sibling opening up in Europe.


Is there a strong connection between all of the headquarters, or do you operate exclusively?

We definitely have a strong exchange with the teams all over the world. We have an internal communication tool, we talk about everything, we swap ideas, we review new materials together… We’ve actually become close friends with the team in Detroit. We really got to know them well, we’ve spent holidays over there and they showed us around the city!

I love Detroit so much. There’s such a huge sense of community over there… It reminds me a lot of Berlin, actually.

I think so too! There’s a lot of common ground between Detroit and Berlin. The decision to open up there was a huge one. People were like, “What?! Why Detroit?!” It seemed crazy that we would set up there because the economy is so bad but it’s working out so well. If you are actually the one to start something and develop it, you inspire the community and you can create something amazing.


Why do you think Berlin was chosen to be the flagship city for Our/Vodka?

Berlin was the perfect choice for the first city because it’s still so young. It’s vibrant. We also have such a big nightclub and bar scene here…. The city is so attractive for a lot of people! This is where trends are set! I think there’s a preconception that everything that comes out of Berlin is cool. (Laughs)

Our/Vodka has set up shop in Berlin, Detroit, Seattle, London, Amsterdam… What’s the common denominator in all these cities?

I’ve asked the same question! It’s most important that the city is young in terms of its established markets… For example, they didn’t want to go to Portland: they went to Seattle instead. That’s not so obvious a choice but we did that because in Portland, there’s already a strong local community with a local brewery and distillery. It’s easier to cultivate this sense of community when you start it from the ground up. People are very open to new products in these cities — it’s very inspiring.

And what made you decide to open the distillery here in Treptow?

It was admittedly very hard to find the right space. It’s especially hard within the confines of the city because there’s a lot of building code requirements… But we found this place and we love it. It’s still in the city but it’s kind of isolated as well. We have a very vibrant surrounding here, there’s Club der Visionäre and the Badeschiff and White Trash and Arena Club all just around the corner. We’re very lucky.


You mentioned these building code requirements. What kind of restrictions are there?

Have you ever seen a distillery explode? (Laughs) It basically just leaves a big hole in the ground. If the distillery explodes here, the entire area would be wiped out. It would look like Mars. (Laughs) So, we have to be very careful. In New York, they were fighting so hard to get the proper permits, they wanted to open the distillery actually within Manhattan — which they succeeded at, by the way; Our/New York will be the first distillery in Manhattan since prohibition times! So, yes, we’re very happy here, and lucky to be here.

I read that you guys brought on an engineer to customise the space as well.

Exactly. And there were a lot of rules. Of course — we’re in Germany! As it was the first distillery for the Our/Vodka project, it has to be made very properly. The laws are very strict! (Laughs) We had to keep in mind that we needed an area to host events, but also a working office space, and a storage space for the dry goods that we use for packaging and bottling and labels and that kind of thing. The best part is this nice roll gate that you can pull up in the summertime, there’s a nice breeze and so much natural light.


That’s so nice because, for me, space really affects my creativity.

Absolutely. When we have the doors wide open in the summer, there’s no boundary between customers, visitors, and us. It also helps creativity flow, helps us find new ideas… Because it’s so open, you can move around, you can go outside when you get sick of sitting in front of the computer… This area is so full of creative people, too. We spend almost more time chatting with our amazing neighbours than we do inside working! (Laughs)

It definitely doesn’t feel like your typical office here.

It was important for us to have a space where people and also our team feel comfortable. It’s a vodka distillery, but it shouldn’t have the feeling of an office. We want to be very open. We want a space where people feel they can just drop by and have a drink. We want people to be comfortable here. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. Just like we have the name on the bottle, we really want to make this Our Berlin.








Free standup! Win a pair of tickets for Josie Long live

by James Glazebrook

Josie Long by Idil Sukan @ drawhq.com

Josie Long by Idil Sukan @ drawhq.com

[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we’re running any open competitions]

Hands up who likes standup comedy? Right, everyone without their hand up can get the fuck out, because there’s nothing better than listening to a funny human’s stories and thoughts and jokes and that. And there are fewer funnier than Josie Long, who’s been smashing it on British telly, the Edinburgh Fringe and countless stages for years now. So if you still have your hands up, put one down and use it scroll down to the bit where we’re giving away two pairs of tickets to Josie’s Berlin show next week. I don’t know what you should do with that other hand – maybe make a fist or a peace sign or something.✌️

If you don’t know Josie, check out her awesome “Romance and Adventure” show below, or this appearance on one of our favourite podcasts, Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces. You can get full details about the two Berlin shows over on Facebook, buy tickets to Friday’s performance via Live in Berlin, and win tickets for Thursday below. Enjoy!


Do you and a friend want to get your giggle on next Thursday? Just answer this question in the comments below:

Who’s your favourite standup? Include a link to something we can laugh at!

You have until 6pm on Friday 2nd October. Good luck!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
3. We will keep a record of each comment in a database and then a random number generator picks the winner.
4. Remember to include your full (real) name and email address or we won’t be able to put you on the guestlist!
5. We will notify the winners via email.

How to work at a startup: 3. Cover letter and social media

by Guest Blogger

By Federico Prandi.

Ever wondered why cover letters are called cover letters?

That’s because they’re a cover-up, a fraud, a final attempt to reinforce all the lies you’ve shamelessly written on your resume and spice them up with some hardcore lip service. A good cover letter is something you can’t have your wife and children read without them thinking you’re willing to trade your family for a part-time customer service job at an internet startup.

Now, in order to write a convincing cover letter you have to be able to write a regular one. I know that nobody writes proper letters anymore, but in our childhood we’ve all done it in (at least) two specific circumstances.

#1 Love Letters

I remember middle school as the place where my first literary attempts took place. All the guys were pouring their hormonal intensity into odes to girls who either wouldn’t let them touch their breasts or didn’t have breasts at all. One of my letters was so successful that a 12-year-old girl in my class pulled me aside and kissed me, making death poems suddenly look like a better idea.

#2 Letters to Santa

Growing up in a catholic family, I could either write my Christmas wishes to Santa or to baby Jesus. I always picked the former, assuming that the old man wouldn’t be up to date with my sins. In hindsight I feel like I was never really filled in on the magic of Christmas and as a result all my letters to Santa sounded like financial scam against a vulnerable senior, as if I had to convince him to spend all his pension on my presents. Also, I probably looked down on Jesus, thinking that a baby born in a shed wouldn’t be able to discern between the real Little Mermaid merchandise and those cheap rip-offs.

Anyway, the perfect cover letter takes something from both examples; it combines the pained longing of the teenage love letter and the manipulative hidden agenda of the Santa letter; it makes big promises but also claims big rewards; it tells a company that you’ll be their dream, you’ll be their wish, you’ll be their fantasy. You’ll be their hope, you’ll be their love, be everything that they need. You’ll love them more with every breath (truly, madly, deeply do), you will be strong, you will be faithful ’cause you’re counting on a new beginning, a reason for living, a deeper meaning, yeah.



My name is Federico Prandi Barry LaVaughn [PRO TIP: use a name that oozes out awesomeness: fake IDs aren’t as expensive as you think!] and I’m applying for the position of Online Marketing Manager after applying to three others and being rejected finding the job posting on some random Reddit thread the company website.

I’ve spent the past year watching every season of Survivor on my couch traveling around the world, but now I need money feel like it’s time for a new professional challenge. I’ve been keeping an eye on NAME_OF_COMPANY for the past seven minutes, while simultaneously shopping on Amazon years and I was always impressed by your constant achievements in terms of growth and marketing efforts.

Before traveling, I worked for two months years at a marketing agency whose main focus are on-site and off-site SEO. When the company started offering a wider range of services, the fact that I have a Twitter account with more than 6 followers my holistic approach to online marketing came especially handy and I was given new responsibilities. My professional path gave me practical experience in stalking people online conducting detailed on-site audits, developing actionable inbound marketing strategies and researching keywords in a clever way. My team left the boat before it sank swayed between “very small” and a “one-man-show”, which made me cry in the shower at night called for crazy organizational skills, high versatility and alcoholism a talent for setting priorities.

In my private time I tend to read and write Harry Potter erotic fanfic in a lot of online places (forums, blogs, e-zines, online newspapers, social media…you name it!); this gave me a very sharp sensitivity when it comes to anything futile in life contemporary online trends and the language of the web.

Having read the profile you’re looking for, I am going to ignore all the requirements I don’t have and apply anyway think I might be a valuable asset to your team and at the same time have a chance to grow as a marketer.

I look forward to hearing back from you and dive deeper into the selection process.



Ta-da! You’re all set!

You have the perfect CV, the perfect cover letter and you’re now ready to pack everything together and send your application via email.

Bonus Track: Clean up your social media



There is one more little thing that needs to be done in order to make your application really really perfect.

Hire a private investigator (or me if I’m bored) and ask him to turn the internet upside down in search of some dirt about you. As much as you consider yourself an amazing human being, that time you made fun of coat-hanger abortions on Twitter may not be well perceived by everybody.

Delete the tweet and, since you’re at it, replace it with a photoshopped picture of you hugging a koala bear (which, in my opinion, is exactly what restored Luke Perry’s public image after 90210).

Bingo – you’re all set!

Federico is an Italian in Berlin. He blogs, tweets, infiltrates the German language, and is currently employed at a cool internet company based in Berlin with a million open positions.

If you liked this, read the rest of the series here. And check out our observations on the Berlin startup scene, and get more practical advice about landing a startup job (with more GIFs!).

überlin Does Croatia: Geeking Out on Analogue Photography

by Zoë Noble

Croatian flag

Just picked up the prints from our summer holiday in Vis, an island a few hours from Split, Croatia. The reason it’s taken so long to get the photos is that I STUPIDLY left the film back in our apartment!? Yup, I’m a massive idiot. Thankfully my guardian angel/Airbnb host Ratko found the film and posted it to me – but it took two months to get here. I’d almost given up hope and then it arrived in the mail last week 😀

Usually I’d take my digital camera while travelling and I’d have all the photos on my laptop, backed up after each day – this was my first holiday ONLY shooting analogue. Why? Because, for a change, I decided to leave the bulky cameras and multiple lenses and just travel really light. When I’m not working, I want to have a complete break from carrying heavy equipment, changing lenses, charging batteries and the post-hols photo editing.

The beauty of film cameras is that they simplify your decisions, leaving you to simply enjoy the moment of taking the photo. You really have to slow down when you shoot analogue, and you truly consider every photo. You remember that you have a limited number of shots and concentrate on really nailing that exposure. So many times I’ve composed an image with my analogue camera, only to decide it just wasn’t worth wasting a shot.

This way of thinking really helps photographers. Taking hundreds of photos with a digital camera may be easier, but it doesn’t help you understand what makes a good photo. Anyone can blast out 1,000 shots and get one killer image. You know you’re a great photographer when EVERY shot is a killer image.

Anyway, enough photo geekery… we had such an amazing time in Croatia and would recommend the island of Vis (thank you Ed and Sarah for the amazing tip!) and our beautiful villa in a heartbeat. We want to be there right now!

All photos shot with Olympus OM-2, 35mm lens and Kodak Portra 400 film.

Croatia sea

Church and blue sky of Croatia

Green seas

James looking out to the sea

Peeling paint

Pink flowers

Vis beach view

Port with fishing boats in Vis

Narrow buildings in Vis

Fishing boats

Sea view in Croatia

Walkway in Vis old town

Vis old town

Fresh fish in Vis

Sun setting in Vis

Win 2 x 2 tickets to Between the Buried and Me!

by James Glazebrook

Between the Buried and Me Coma Ecliptic

[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we’re running any open competitions]

B-bands are smashing it in metal at the moment! We’ve just been raving about Bring Me The Horizon, but Between the Buried and Me may have pipped them for our album of the year so far. Like BMTH, BTBAM are pushing metalcore into new, exciting directions, albeit down the weirder progressive, concept-album path towards full-blown rock opera. Check out the video for “The Coma Machine” to find out what the frig that sounds like in 2015, and scroll down to win a pair of tickets to the band’s upcoming Berlin show!


Do you and a friend want to get your prog on at Musik & Frieden (formerly Magnet) next Tuesday? Just answer this question in the comments below:

What’s your pick for album of the year so far (in any genre)?

You have until 6pm on Friday 25th September. Good luck!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
3. We will keep a record of each comment in a database and then a random number generator picks the winner.
4. Remember to include your full (real) name and email address or we won’t be able to put you on the guestlist!
5. We will notify the winners via email.