Moriarty – the no BS bar
Athens is no longer a baby on the modern cocktail bar scene. With several world renowned hot spots, and an educated community of guests who know how to order and keep mixologists on their toes, greek bartending is maturing into an ambitious international contender. Every new bar in central Athens inspires a second one, and trends are picked up and dropped at rapid speed. As one of those aforementioned attentive guests, I’m interested not just in what we drink, but where. When a new bar opens, I visit with eyes wide open. I’m impressed by quality, and disappointed by copycats. Is another ice sphere interesting? I say no, which is why my first feature on this site is on a bar that’s different.
So what’s the latest trend? Obviously, it’s avoiding trends. Scaling it back, skipping the ice sculpting and the housemade shrub, keeping recipes simple, and in a way, honoring greek bartending tradition.
Moriarty opened on November 2nd. Its’ owner Panis Κalofolias is by no means the most experienced bartender in town, which he gladly admits. He has worked behind various bars, picking up knowledge while passing through, and one can tell he has a natural understanding of flavors. “I was one of all the people dreaming of opening the bar I wanted to visit but couldn’t find,” he says. “I’m not interested in the whole theatre going on at most new places in central Athens. The aprons and the bow ties… It’s getting kind of silly. Everyone is trying to top each other and win guests over with these superficial means.”
Entering Moriarty, you can tell that this place is different; more down to earth. While the décor has absolutely been coordinated by a hand that knows what’s hot, with several vintage and retro elements, it is also pleasantly plain. Nothing is overdone. The theme here is old Britain, which in itself is more relatable than the fancier Italian or French bistro inspired bar rooms that keep popping up around town as we speak. Offhand, Panis categorizes Moriarty as a pub, though it looks little like the traditional British pub most would picture at that description. The lapis blue walls and warm brown leather seating makes a calm and inviting atmosphere. In the afternoon, when Moriarty slowly fills with people coming in for an after work drink, the place is bathing in sunlight.
By habit, I go straight to the cocktails. They’re as straight-forward as specialty cocktails come, with five ingredients or less. I try the house Mai Tai (I could easily have downed a pitcher), and the Mrs. Peel, which has vodka, ginger, cinnamon, and Malibu of all things – and it’s perfect. There is no over the top garnish. Panis throws a cinnamon stick into the Mrs. Peel and serves it to me. It is refreshing, not just in flavor, but as an experience. “We don’t use hard to get bitters or exotic fruits,” Panis explains, “just like we don’t have Japanese whiskey on our menu -we prefer Scotch- and what we know well.”
More investigation goes into the music, and the various DJ’s that play at Moriarty. It seems everyone wants to play here, but Panis doesn’t offer the space to just anyone. “We play the music that others won’t, even though people love it. It’s garage, indie, alternative tunes that guests come back for, and I’m very set on keeping this standard.”
There is nothing theatrical about Moriarty. Instead, it is honest and pure. It is the kind of bar that I like to keep as my base for a night out, as a starting point, and the type of bar I like to use as a spirit-level when I give points to others on my mind’s rating page. I think to myself, where does this new place fall in relation to Moriarty; Is it cooler, or just more glossy? Is the quality of the drinks better, or are they just more pretentious? Because as Panis puts it: “We are not a cocktail bar. We are a no bullshit bar.”
Adress: Christou Lada 1, Karytsi Square
Phone: 213 0406763
Open: 11PM-3AM on weekdays, 11PM-5AM on weekends
Happy Hour: 6PM-9PM on weekdays
Reservation needed: Moriarty does not take reservations
Credit cards: Soon
All photos by Paulina Björk Kapsalis for Bitterbooze.com