Greece may be struggling to find a way out of its economic crisis, but the citizens of Athens still have plenty of choice when it comes to escaping their woes over a drink. Whether you’re in town to party or to talk politics, here are five great places to drink in the country’s capital.
Through a tiny door in the middle of an antique-shop-filled street in Monastiraki is the TAF Foundation – taf is the Greek letter T but in this case also stands for The Art Foundation – a courtyard arts space. The yard is lined with a bar (think high tables and seats, covered in winter and open to the elements in summer) and the whole place feels like sitting in the middle of a film set. The in-house exhibition this summer is of cocktail posters. For each poster, a cocktail: the Hangover is white and black rum with pineapple and passion fruit, Peacock Blues is gin, honey, grapefruit, cardamom and spearmint.
New cocktail bar The Clumsies (pictured above and below) is home to an experimental kitchen where, on our visit, they were distilling the essence of blue cheese and mixing it with alcohol. The Clumsies created Greece’s first premium gin and the drinks list includes a cocktail made with frappa lemon, bitters, oregano and rosemary. Speak to the bartender and he or she will tailor your drink to your tastes. And the name? Vasilis Kyritsis, one of the owners, says: ‘A friend observed that we spilled a few things behind the bar but we say the right way is to be a little bit clumsy’.
By The Glass offers the best of Greece’s modern wines – not the petrol-y, rough stuff of old holiday memories – but fabulous whites, rosés and reds. Sit in the arcade or perch inside at a high table and try a flight of tiny 25ml measures, or ‘by the glass’ – or a bottle. As the name suggests, they use a special sealing method here to make every bottle in the house available by the glass. Food to match each of the wines is also available.
This place began with a silver food truck parked inside the courtyard of a building behind the Panathanaikos stadium – Greeks call these cantinas and they’re usually found outside clubs and bouzoukia (traditional music venues) selling hotdogs and souvlaki. Now it’s expanded, with picnic tables amid flower,s in the outside space, and, inside, a bar where you can sip a fig cocktail or a glass of wine.
Abelokipi and Lycabettus Streets (00 30 213 028 1866)
For a view of the Acropolis and the city, take the elevator in the Hilton Hotel to the rooftop Galaxy Bar and claim a seat on the balcony. Try an Andromeda Secret – rum, ouzo and almond syrup – or a Molecular Cloud – vodka, mandarin and almond liquor. Inside, there’s a dancefloor under the ‘galaxy ceiling’. But time it right. If you prefer your cocktail with a side-order of quiet, come early. If you fancy loud music and shimmying on the dancefloor, visit around 10pm when locals and visitors may well be tripping the light fantastic.
HOW TO DO IT: Flights from the UK to Athens start from around £60 return from various UK airports (easyJet.com). Double rooms at the Hilton cost from £163 (hiltonathens.gr). More info: visitgreece.gr
Words and photographs: Audrey Gillan
FIRST PUBLISHED JULY 2015
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