Athens has no shortage of standout cocktail bars – from a chic drinking spot with unparalleled sea views to an elegant lounge set within an opulent Neoclassical mansion.
With high-end lounges, cosy little watering holes and everything in between, Athens’s cocktail scene never fails to impress and surprise. With new spots constantly popping up across the Greek capital, every neighbourhood is a potential cocktail hub waiting to happen.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Spiti Bar’s relaxed vibe turns it up a notch with daily DJ sets and live-music gigs on Mondays | Courtesy of Spiti Bar
In the buzzing area of Chalandri, semi-hidden inside a stoa (gallery), is Spiti Bar – a one-stop shop for some of the most unusual cocktails found in Athens. For example, there is the Santanico Pandemonium, an alternative version of the classic paloma with mezcal and sage, and the gin-based Miss Piggy with home-made sweet-pepper syrup and basil. “We always aim for ingredients that are natural yet unconventional – this is what makes our recipes unique,” says bar manager Lazaros Gounaridis. Between this, the daily DJ sets, Monday’s live-music gigs and the relaxed atmosphere, you’ll never want to leave.
Set in the buzzing neighbourhood of Petralona, all-day bar Paribaba epitomises the ‘old Athens’ charm of the area while also channelling the spirit of Cuba – this is particularly apparent on the bar’s quaint terrace, adorned with greenery and a vibrant mural of Havana. Bartender and mixologist Christos insists that cocktails are misunderstood in Greece: “Contrary to popular belief, cocktails are not just for the summer; they’re an all-year-round drink. It’s just a matter of winter versus summer ingredients.” No doubt, the bar’s signature Zombie, complete with home-made falernum syrup, is meant for warm and cold days alike.
In a Neoclassical manor in the centre of Kifissia, in the northern suburbs of Athens, is The Dalliance House, an all-day bar-restaurant that still carries the opulence of the former 19th-century residence. As its name suggests, the old ‘flirts’ with the new, all the way from the revamped vintage interiors – which marries historical elegance with elements of contemporary design – to Dalliance’s spacious terrace. The bar boasts a long list of innovative signature cocktails for the seasoned cocktail taster, including the light, refreshing kind based on Mediterranean flavours, and a variety of spicy, more intense options.
Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, Mediterranean, European, Cocktails, $$$
Kick back with a mai tai against a backdrop of ocean vistas at Ark. This upscale bar-restaurant in the area of Glyfada offers astonishing views of the Athens Riviera, either from the inside of its luxurious space or al fresco right on the water’s edge. Ideal for the summer months, Ark creates classic cocktails with a local twist – such as a bee-pollen margarita made with pollen sourced from Greek apiaries, tangerine from Arta in northwestern Greece and smoked salt from Cyprus.
If Ernest Hemingway had a drinking sanctuary in Athens, it would be in the suburb of Psychiko. Finca Vigia, named after the author’s famous home in Cuba, draws inspiration from Hemingway’s drinking habits and particularly from his favourite tipple – rum. With many varieties brought from countries around the world, including Jamaica and Cuba, Finca Vigia is a rum aficionado’s paradise. In addition to classic Cuban cocktails, part of the menu is based on recipes found in the author’s books. Try the Papa Doble with lime juice and maraschino liqueur.
What if your favourite holiday never had to come to an end? That’s what owner Fani Spyridaki must have wondered before opening Noel. With Baroque interiors and an atmosphere that recalls 1920s Paris, this sumptuous bar-restaurant in the centre of Athens will quickly convince you that, here at least, it’s always Christmas. The emerald-hued, Art Deco-inspired interior has an undeniably festive feel. “People come here for the ambience and character of the place, the music and, of course, the delicious cocktails,” says manager Nikos Portokalis. To capture the festive spirit, try Last Christmas – a cocktail with rum, brandy, bitters, ginger, lemon and dark chocolate.
A sign that reads “I feel sorry for the people who are not DRUNK said FR SINATRA” sets the tone at this lively bar close to Syntagma Square. Upon entering, a ’50s extravaganza reveals itself in the form of a retro bar with distinct rooms – packed with vintage TV sets, armchairs and lamps – while on warm evenings, the party spills out onto the street. Though a soul and jazz soundtrack adds to the sense of nostalgia and forms a big part of Drunk Sinatra’s allure, the bar’s cocktail menu is its main draw. The extensive selection includes innovative drinks named after various virtues – try the Fidelity made with Dutch vodka, wild strawberries and almond extract, for example.
As vibrant as the bird it’s named after (which is also known as the hoopoe), Upupa Epops centres around a charming black-and-white-tiled courtyard, which sits within a cluster of three interwar houses dating back to 1930. However, the beating heart of Upupa is the bar. The team recommends the popular Amnesia cocktail, with rum, pineapple juice and home-made falernum liqueur. The bar’s goal? “To keep people coming back both for the signature cocktails and the special seasonal ones that are created twice a year.”