It sounds almost like an exaggeration to say that Athens has some of the best bars in the world. Really, Athens, Greece – our Athens? Yet repeated awards and recognition from well-traveled bartenders are proof that we can now say it with confidence. And last night’s announcement that The Clumsies and Baba au Rum have climbed to 6th and 30th place respectively on The World’s 50 Best Bars list was, to promoters of the Greek bar scene, a very reassuring pat on the back.
“I still believe that I’ll open my eyes and whatever happened last night will not be true,” Nikos Bakoulis, co-owner of The Clumsies, wrote on Facebook.
The new rankings, announced on Thursday night in London, are reason for celebration not just for the owners and employees of the specific bars, but for anyone working in the Greek tourism sector. Both of the Athens establishments on the list are run by people who actively promote the Greek bar scene.
The team behind the Clumsies (Vasilis Kyritsis, Nikos Bakoulis, Lefteris Georgopoulos, Thanos Tsounakas, and Giorgos Kaissaris) are known to organize various international projects, for which they bring in some of the best bartenders in the world. Thanos Prunarus of Baba au Rum is also the man behind Athens Rum and Whiskey Festival, as well as Fine Drinking magazine.
Head bartenders Kyritsis and Bakoulis are both Greek World Class winners, so excellence was anticipated when The Clumsies opened in 2012. Five years later, their new menu, Genesis, is just as impressive as the first one. They first appeared on the World’s 50 Best Bars list at number 22 in 2015, leapfrogged into the top ten as number 9 in 2016, and now have climbed to number 6. As it says on the World’s 50 Best Bars’ website, “The Clumsies is more than a bar, it is also a brand”.
“It’s like a dream for us,” Georgopoulos says, speaking for the whole team, “We still can’t believe it! Thank you everyone for your support and we are so proud that The Clumsies and generally our Greek industry goes higher and higher every year”.
Baba au Rum was the first Greek bar to ever get on the list, ranked 48th in 2013. Last year, they appeared on the list again rising to 40th. Now leaping from 40th to 30th this year, the momentum is certainly with Prunarus and his team, and building.
The World’s 50 Best Bars acknowledged the quality of the Athens bar scene when outlining their reasoning behind the award for Baba au Rum, saying that “…this sophisticated rum and cocktail bar in the historic centre of Athens was a pioneer of the city’s current vibrant scene”.
When about his reaction to the award, Prunarus told Greece Is: “It’s always nice when your work gets recognized, because what most people don’t know is just how much work it takes. At the end of the night though, our reward is the smiles from the people on the other side of the bar”.
Bars from 24 cities are on the list this year. London stands out with the most award-winning bars with a total of eight on the list, four of which are in the top ten, and the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel shining in first place.
New York is next in the rankings, with seven bars on the list in total and three in the top ten. Singapore has six bars on the list in total and one in the top ten, while Paris has three bars on the list in total. And then there’s Athens. With two bars on the list in total and The Clumsies in the top ten (second only to London and New York bars), it’s fair to say that Athens has become one of the world’s top destinations for fine drinking.