Behind Bars: Forty Drops

Behind Bars: Forty Drops, Dusseldorf

It used to be an an old, disused bowling alley underneath a tapas bar. Today, it is one of the most interesting bars in Düsseldorf.

Sometime in 2015, Niko Stojanowski realized a mouldy smell at “Frida“, his tapas bar located on Bilker Allee in Düsseldorf’s south. Not just any kind of moudly smell, it was a real fust. Coming from the basement, the source of the smell was quickly identified: a pipe burst. While the problem needed immediate attention, it actually was a blessing in disguise. Stojanowski took a good look at the spacious basement, which originally had been a bowling alley, later on a smokers lounge and had finally been turned into a storage facility. What a waste of space, he thought to himself. Why not use it for something more useful? Wouldn’t this space make a great bar? He came to the decision to give it a try.

In order to make the bowling alley into a bar, he teamed up with Dennis Lieske, who tended bar at „Frida“ as well as at “Beuys“. Together, they designed the new interior. They removed the old furniture, put neon tubes on the walls, displaying “Forty Drops“ in huge letters, protected behind a rough looking mesh of steel. Naked lightbulbs were installed on the tables and the ceiling was re-decorated with a mosaic of tiles. After 4 months, it was done. Guests can now sit in small lounges or at the long table in the rear part of bar – a perfect solution for what used to be the long and narrow bowling alley. With its dimmed lighting, “Forty Drops“ feels a little bit like a speakeasy. Quite a contrast compared to the south american flair of the tapas bar upstairs. What’s more important: Stojanowski and Lieske had turned a storage room into a bar full of atmosphere.


It’s all about the 40

At “Forty Drops“, you can chose from a selection of 40 cocktails, amongst them classics like Whiskey Sour and Mojito (the later being offered according to the recipe of Lieske’s friend and colleague Kent Steinbach, working at the legendary “Mojitos“ in Düsseldorf’s Medienhafen. Longdrinks, fancy and classic ones, are the bar´s focus. One offers 40 different kinds of gin, including many sourced in Germany: Windspiel, Stauffenberg, Siegfried, Gin Sul and Ferdinand. At “Forty Drops“, Thomas Henry Tonic Water is the mixer of choice, working best with the wide variety of gin available. Traditional cocktails, however, are not the only drinks you can enjoy at “Forty Drops“, Lieske also offers the so-called “drop shots“, shots served in a test-tube, 40ml worth of liquid. In a bar? Really? According to Lieske, this is the best way possible to merge the style of a serious bar with the idea of having a good time or a party. Ordering a drop shot, you not just get a shot of alcohol. Instead, you can enjoy a micro cocktail, a condensed version of what is usually served in a much bigger glas. The “Gin Basil Smash“ for example: gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and – of course – basil. According to Lieske, the drop shots are a big hit with customers. No surprise there, if you ask us.

Drop it like it’s hot

Because there is more to “Forty Drops“ than just cocktails. Music plays an important role in creating an unique atmosphere. Lieske especially likes hip hop from the 1990’s and early 2000’s. So does his regular crowd. Later this year, DJs will be part of that equation as well, creating an even better vibe for the place where people used to bowl and had a good time. Having a good time – some things never change.


Forty Drops

Bilker Allee 4

40219 Düsseldorf

Phone: + 49 172 2613785

Opening Hours: Friday and Saturday from 8 pm to 3 am