Six d.o.g.s. – The happiest place on earth?
Six d.o.g.s. is a well-oiled machine. If that sounds factory like, or big business, or even commercial, that’s not a complete misconception. This established multi-space pumps out cocktails and coffee so rapidly and exact, you start to search for the conveyor belt. Perhaps an electric restaurant lift connecting to an underground space where rows of bartenders and baristas battle each other for treats?
Six d.o.g.s. magic factory
In reality, it’s all thanks to preparations, and the fully equipped mixology lab residing on the second floor. Making a delicious, complex, perfect in appearance cocktail in no time isn’t as hard when they’re semifinished. Spirits are infused, shrubs are bottled, sugars are flavored, salt is smoked, and garnish is prepared. Unique layers of flavor are created beforehand, leaving only assembly for behind the bar. But don’t worry; this isn’t IKEA. We’re talking quality here. In fact, we’re talking magic, and if we’re to compare Six d.o.g.s. to a corporation, it should be Disney.
Marios Iliopoulos, head bartender here since the opening, has a thing for themes. Last year, the menu was Tropical Island inspired. This year, it’s “Fantasia”; Disney pictures’ famous experimental film from 1940. If you haven’t seen it, do so before visiting.
When I arrive to sample the new menu, on a Tuesday afternoon, the place is buzzing. Every table is taken –mostly by students and young adults. Iliopoulos confirms that this is their regular clientele. “I like that we have managed to create a space where young people can have quality drinks” he explains. “We’ve created a menu that is sort of like a textbook. While it’s long it is also easy to understand. This is a large place and guests don’t mainly sit at the bar, but we still want to take the opportunity to teach them about what they’re drinking.”
Six d.o.g.s. Fantasia acts
The first drink he serves me is the “Drunk King”. A bright orange, gin based cocktail with layers upon layers of orange flavor (Aperol, honey & orange syrup, orange flower water, orange juice, and an orange twist). But the flavor that really stands out is the carrot. I’m used to this flavor in a sweet environment, but the sour and bitter in this cocktail really makes the fresh carrot juice pop.
Next up is the “Princess Goldfish”. Clearly inspired by the second act of Fantasia, set to the nut-cracker, where fairies place the morning dew (represented here –in my mind– by the cucumber), flowers dance (the verbena garnish and bergamot and borage infused gin), and fish do what fish do (the name). Once again, flavors are enhanced as they are added in multiple forms. The bergamot slips in again along with lime as a cordial, and fresh cucumber is enhanced with bitters. Peng hi cha green tea syrup, ginger and lemon juice, and elderflower liqueur add to the freshness, and smoked black sea salt adds contrast.
As a lingering reminder of the tiki trend of the last few years, lately, every new cocktail menu seems to have its version of a piña colada. Most only slightly resemble the classic by pairing pineapple and coconut in completely different ways. Iliopoulos does this with the “Bubble Chaos”; a fresh and summery drink featuring pineapple juice and mastiha liqueur that’s been infused with coconut and pepper. The Hawaiian lava salt garnish hints to tiki again. It’s the first cocktail in the new menu. “It’s bringing you slowly into the chaos,” Iliopoulos says, referring to the beginning of Fantasia, before Mickey Mouse puts on the magician’s hat in the third act.
“Now here, the magician is finding his feet,” he continues, serving me the “Rainbow Lust”, explaining how it’s taken a lot of effort to find the right way to add beer to this cocktail without first turning it into syrup. The beer is the local Pikri, and it’s paired with Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, lemon juice, tangerine puree, and quince spoon sweet (which you can fish out and snack on if you’re so inclined).
I go on to try the “Pegasus Gallop” with Rutte celery gin, bergamot liqueur, ginger shrub, tomato, lemon, and most notably, a lemon and green apple foam top made with gelatin that takes more than a day to make in the lab. The “Flower Dance” features violet infused tequila, San Cosme mezcal, verbena and mint syrup, and an explosion of fruity flavor in the form of mango shrub and mango puree, and peach bitters.
Six d.o.g.s. showoff
Somewhere around here, my palate is no longer at its best. I ask Iliopoulos to go all out with the tiki and make me a drink that comes with a show. The “Cloud Ballet” does just that. Four Roses whiskey is paired with Marie Brizard Gingembre liqueur, Amaro di Angostura, coconut water, royal palm nut syrup, lemon and pineapple juice, and dandelion and burdock bitters. But the garnish is what turns the heads of at least ten young guests behind me. The pineapple slice is caramelized (fire show), and then paired with a tiny stick of rose flavored cotton candy. If this doesn’t excite the kids, what will? It’s grownup Disneyland; it’s “the happiest place on earth”.
The “Fairy’s Cobweb” turns out to be the biggest surprise on the menu. While a whole bunch of my favorite flavors show up here again (Beefeater, Aperol, tomato, ginger, and basil), the flowery bitters, bergamot liqueur and strawberries makes this a sweet and very feminine drink that neither the pepper nor the smoked lemon salt can butch up. Still, while it does make me feel like I’m having a cocktail with Carrie Bradshaw, it is my favorite drink on the menu. It tastes like the salty strawberry liquorice lollypops I ate as a child… while watching my favorite Disney movies.
Address: 6-8 Avramiotou Street, Monastiraki
Phone: 210 32 10 510
Reservation needed: No
Open: 10:00 AM – 3:00 AM
Credit cards accepted: Yes
Photos by Paulina Björk Kapsalis for Bitterbooze.com