Athens is among the world’s cities with a highly sophisticated bar scene, and it is currently experiencing a new heyday. Even after a tiring day, it is worth visitors to the city taking the time to explore its most popular spots rather than settling for a drink in the hotel lounge or, even worse, for the sad little bottles in the mini-bar. If you’re staying at the Hilton, just ride a few floors up to enjoy a great view over Athens, excellent service and quality drinks at the Galaxy bar. A cosmopolitan establishment, you will find well-heeled Athenians and businessmen having an aperitif or after-dinner drink on its broad veranda. A view of the urban landscape, the Acropolis, Syntagma Square, Parliament and Zappeio is the highlight of the Grande Bretagne roof garden bar. As the city frets below, the GB Roof Garden is a haven of luxury and an all-time classic, poised just a few meters above the din of Panepistimiou Street, where you will get excellent service, elegant cocktails and a wide selection of cigars and liquor.
Back on the street and just a block over, there’s a covered arcade running on the side of the Old Parliament building that is home to 42, a low-profile bar that has succeeded in becoming a classic and a paradigm for others in just five years of operation. Wood paneling, low lighting, music with attitude and a sturdy, wooden counter that forms the bar’s centerpiece, give an unmistakably European air. Behind the counter, skilled professionals fill their shakers with hard-to-find ingredients and ice that it orders especially, shake it all up with expertise and serve in ornate glassware. Both bartenders and connoisseurs of what makes people tick, you can ask them to make a drink especially for you. The Clumsies, located on the fringe of Klafthmonos Square, belongs to the new generation of cocktail bars. It’s an all-day bar housed in a beautiful neoclassical mansion, with an internal courtyard, homey décor, rooms on different levels and a private lounge with a pool table and a separate bar that can accommodate up to 10 guests at a time. A mixology lab is located on the same level, where the Clumsies bar tenders create their signature and award-winning cocktails, served with panache and special effects in the avant-garde yet cozy lounges. At night the music is turned up several notches, attracting an under-30s crowd.
If you don’t like bells and whistles, CV Distiller, just a short walk from the Hilton hotel, is the place for you. In has a pretty courtyard nestled between apartment buildings from the 1960s and an imposing counter in the interior, where its vast selection of choice liquors is reflected in a large mirror. Whisky is definitely the star here and you will find a selection of more than 200 labels, though other types of liquor are also very well represented with rare rums, little-known tequilas and mescals, gins, vodkas and vermouths. Every page of the menu is like a brief lesson in serious drinking and every drink is served in the appropriate glassware. Out of respect for the fine quality of its liquors, drinks are not served on the rocks but with whisky stones instead to avoid diluting. There’s a cellar with a separate bar in the basement as well as a well-stocked humidor for cigar smokers.