Mary Pickford – Something is stirring in Mikrolimano
Once upon a time, as a fresh off the plane immigrant to Greece, I spent some of those first evenings in Mikrolimano, Pireaus. The proximity to the sea and the relatively small buildings crawling up the hillside over the harbor with all the pretty sailboats makes Mikrolimano resemble an island; not completely unlike my naïve tourist image of Greece. It was probably a good first stop before diving into the busy cement chaos that makes up most of Athens. I remember enjoying myself. However, it wasn’t long before the area started to die down. People moved on, as they do in the city, to more freshly redone and hip areas (in this case, leaving Pireaus for Gazi and the Flisvos Marina). I’ve rarely been back since then. Now, on the terrace of Lefteris Lazarou’s Michelin star awarded Varoulko, one of the seaside fish restaurants still worth a visit in Mikrolimano, something is stirring. Something is making people return. The new rooftop bar Mary Pickford, is a slice of city center nightlife quality; fine drinking with a touch of food pairing and a tons of trend factor. The people behind it, along with Lazarou, is Thanos Prunarus and his Baba au Rum team.
Let there be Mary Pickford
The entire space is open air, so strictly for summer evenings. Due to the rains in June, regrettably, it took me until now to pay my first visit. It won’t be the last. Stepping out of the elevator onto the terrace of Mary Pickford when they open in the evening is like taking the first relevant breath of the day. It’s a beautiful space, decorated elegantly; plush yet clean, in everything from colors, to materials, to the geometric art deco designs and logotype. Most important though, nothing interferes with the real eye catcher and atmosphere creator, which is the view. Below and ahead is Mikrolimano; as picturesque as ever. Beyond, there’s the coastline of the better part of the Attica basin, and the mountains above it. The sunset creates soft pink and blues above the water.
On the evening I visit, there is to be a full moon. The staff impatiently turn their heads to the horizon, convinced that “the moon is late today”. It seems odd, until it finally appears above the mountains and creates one of the most dramatic moonscapes I’ve ever seen. Alexandros Sourbatis, who is mixing my cocktails this night, laughs when I ask how they get any work done. Then shrugs. “Sometimes we don’t.”
The cocktail list is separated into three parts, so I decide to try a cocktail from each chapter. First up is the “Pearl Fishers” from the “Summer Bubbles” category. This part of the list features sparkling summer drinks one couldn’t pair with a better setting. The “Pearl Fishers” is basically a negroni dressed for summer, or a gin tonic dressed for a fancy party (I can’t decide) made special with Amaro, lime, Thomas Henry cherry blossom tonic, and a fresh cherry for garnish. When Prunarus shows up and joins us a little later, this is his drink of choice.
The second part of the cocktail list is titled “Deco“, and is dedicated to classics in coupe glasses. I cannot not try the “Mary Pickford”. This bar’s namesake, the drink in turn named after an actress, is sweet and pretty. It features rum, pineapple, pomegranate syrup, lime, and maraschino cherry.
Mary Pickford is a place to be
The final part of the list is named “Meet the Exotics“. To me, exotic usually means tiki, or Middle Eastern, or just culturally obscure. In this case however, exotic means Mediterranean flavors paired with ingredients from various parts of the world. Stand out ingredients are berries, Caribbean rum (in recipes borrowed from Baba au Rum’s menu), the local vermouth Vermood, orange blossom, and mastiha. The drink I choose; the “Days of Summer”, is a sour and refreshing cocktail featuring rosemary infused tsipouro, maraschino cherry liqueur, and Chartreuse.
While I’m enjoying the drinks in sort of a hypnotized mode – the serenity of the location having got to me – I also notice the people stepping out of the elevator and slowly filling the terrace. They all react the same way; they take a few steps, then come to a full stop, stare at the view, take a few more steps and look around, and then you can literally see them relax. Shoulders sink into place, smiles are shared. This is the place to be.
Adress: Akti Koumoundourou, Pireaus 54-56
Phone: 21 0412 3308
Reservation needed? Yes, especially on weekends.
Open hours: 20.00-3.00
Takes credit cards: Yes
All Photos by Nota Nikolaidi