10 Years of Athens Bar Show

27 Nov. 2019
Celebrating a Decade of Growth

It is sometimes said that for a cocktail scene to be mature, it needs a quality magazine and a bar show. Both provide essential things: they foster a sense of community, provide a focal point for the scene, help spread the wisdom of the foremost international experts and detect early growing local stars. This is the theory, though, and measuring practical effects can be a tad more complicated — if not impossible.

Earlier this month, the Athens Bar Show celebrated its tenth anniversary. And while some will say « correlation is not causation », it’s undeniable — even without a scientist’s measuring kit — that the show modestly launched by Babis Kaidalidis a decade ago when the Greek bar scene was still in its infancy has helped shape the talents and the bars of a country in the midst of a terrible economical crisis.

This year, once again, two Greek bars were named in the 50 Best Bars list: Baba au Rum (31) and The Clumsies (6). Back in 2010, to have a Greek bar considered as one of the top ten best bars in the world, ahead of the Asian powerhouse of Singapore, would have been absolutely unthinkable. And while the success of those two bars are obviously first and foremost down to the hard work, ingenuity and talent of the creative teams that run them day to day, the bar show probably helped: no matter how good you are, if no one knows about it, it’s not going to matter. An event such as the Athens Bar Show means international guests, opportunities to organise guest shifts or take overs and do some networking. Essential.

Bar shows don’t only help to tier bars, though, they also shine a light on lesser know establishments and provide the perfect setting to showcase emerging talents or to provide them with the education they need to develop their career. This year, the Athens Bar Show did that once more, with more than a hundred speakers sharing their knowledge with attendees over two days. And more than 9000 people joined them. 

Havana Club obviously partnered with the event, setting up a booth dedicated to Professional Editions C & D. The spirit was tasted neat and mixed in cocktails designed by Alex Kratena and Carina Soto Velasquez, the bartenders who worked on both rums. Carina was also on hand to share her experience with visitors and gave a well attended seminar with global brand ambassador Meimi Sanchez on the fascinating creative process behind both releases. If you’ve ever visited Greece and Athens in particular, you’d have noticed that there’s a particular affinity between the cradle of Western civilization and, well, the cradle of the Daiquiri: Cuban and Greeks seem to be kindred spirits and both love rum (obviously). Great Mojitos and Daiquiris are very easy to find in Athens bar — from Baba au Rum to B2 or tiki-themed Red Lotus — so it wasn’t a surprise to see both editions so well received. 

Havana Club also hosted a few bar entrepreneurs for a relaxed and friendly dinner around great Greek food and, well, fantastic rum drinks. It brought together a diverse bunch of bar operators, hailing from as far from Athens as Crete and drove an important point home: beyond international lists, there are many, many top bars in Greece that you, dear reader and discerning drinker, would love to discover. In that spirit and in order to celebrate the 10th Athens Bar Show and the bar scene it symbolizes, we will let some of those entrepreneurs talk about themselves and their bars over the next couple of weeks. Along with the event, they have grown over the last ten years and helped shape what is one of the most exciting bar scenes of the world. We’re delighted to give them some space on Bar News.