Drunk Sinatra and Rehab – Drunk and Off the Beaten Track
It’s a new year, a new season, and the time for cocktail bars to clean out their closets, as it were. Shake those carpets, clean those windows, and bring some fresh new recipes into the spring light. At Drunk Sinatra, and at Rehab – scratch that – at Drunk Athens (their shared nickname), the changes are palpable. The two sibling bars are now working as one, as they should be. The common space of the arcade unites them and the new cocktail menu is one and the same in the entire space. To illuminate this shift, the menu is fittingly named “Frankie goes to Rehab”.
I visited it on a Wednesday afternoon, on an empty stomach and not quite prepared to sample half of the cocktails on the menu. Don’t make the same mistake. You can’t have just one drink here. New head bartender Antreas Dimitropoulos and his team (Dimitris Kraskas and Akis Papanastasiou) present a menu that will please the beer-loving regulars at Drunk Sinatra as much as the cocktail sipping crowd of Rehab. Flavors range from easily approachable, like a strawberry and elderflower combo, to a mezcal, sherry, and black beer pairing in a cocktail inspired by breakfast foods.
“We created a mainstream playlist – a list of cocktails all named after our favorite tracks – with something for everyone,” Antreas explains.
Of those favorite tracks, however, the beaten track is not one. While in some cases he is a traditionalist (don’t ask him to put strawberries in your daiquiri), what he really likes is creating new recipes with the inspiration he takes from the classics. He has a book with 300 new recipes, locked and loaded, ready to go. “But I can’t stop making more,” he says, “it’s the best part of the job”. When it works, he chooses Greek products such as Three Cents soda (which appears in all but one of the low ABV and virgin cocktails on the menu), as well as mastiha liqueur and tsipouro. Rather than syrups, he chooses to make infused spirits and combine those with other sweeteners such as honey and – first and foremost – agave. For Antreas, who used to tend bars with the Jose Cuervo team, the agave syrup is a soft spot, as is tequila and mezcal.
Not surprisingly, mezcal is the base in my favorite cocktail on the menu; the “Sinatra”. It hits all the right spots. Sweet and sour to begin with, and then an intense smokiness from the mezcal, mirrored in black beer and the burning of oak wood flakes and cinnamon in the glass before serving. It’s a flavor experience with a show. Antreas’ inspiration for the “Sinatra”? Sinatra himself, and his favorite food; bacon (the smoky flavor) and eggs (the egg white top).
Mezcal and tequila keep showing up in expected and unexpected ways. Another well-rounded cocktail is the “No Good”. Here, the mezcal is paired with Caol Ila whiskey, lemon and agave, in a hickory salt rimmed glass. Then, in Antreas’ version of a piña colada, called “Strangers in the night”, I discover a double presence of piña. There’s piña as in pineapple, and as in the core of the agave, in the form of 1800 Tequila Coconut. A pleasant surprise for those of us who don’t love the original cocktail, as this one is lovely.
But this is not a tequila-centered menu. Base spirits vary, and though Antreas does admit to getting a rush from turning people around to his favorite spirit, his menu is purposely miscellaneous.
For the whiskey lover, another complicated but interesting drink is “My Way”. Made with Bushmills and Amaro Averna, it’s given body with fresh banana that reflects the flavor of the whiskey, and a kick from smoked pepper flakes. The “Back to Black” stars banana again, with rum and sherry, agave, and chocolate and cherry bitters. It is garnished with fresh banana on the rim, and a shaving of chocolate on top. If you love a good banoffee pie, this is the drink for you. If you’re looking to be refreshed, order “The First Noel”; a rum based drink with little to do with Christmas. Fruity, summery, and perfect for killing your thirst. Or, if you’re a gin lover like me, try the “Under my Skin”; a chili flavored cocktail with a cucumber garnish that will make you want to bite into your glass.
I can’t help it. I’m putting this playlist on repeat.
Address: Thiseos 16 Syntagma
Phone: 0030 210 3211434
Open Hours: 5:00PM – 3:00AM
Reservation needed: Yes, especially for a seat at the bar
Credit cards: Yes