B/2 – The Bside of Athens
The Athens bar scene is evolving constantly and the standard of fine drinking is very high. In Athens city centre there are two of The World’s 50 Best Bars. Athens is a very good breeding ground for new openings. This time I was right there for the brand new opening of the bar B/2. My first question was, what is B/2?
B/2 is named after the B-side songs on a vinyl single. Usually, on vinyl singles the producers put the songs they think will get airplay or become a hit on the A-side. On the B-side, they put more personal, abstract, special or artistic ones. The B-side usually has 2 songs, B1 and B2. The brains behind the bar are the brothers Stathis and Tito Karipidi, well-known in the bar industry but also in the music industry. The last time I was in Athens I listened to tracks by one of the brothers who is known as DJ Bengoa. He always plays the B2 song. Voila, the name was born.
But what is the connection between music and drinks? At B/2 you drink according to the sound. “We are governed by sound” says the menu and also Mr. James McLintock Head of the Sound Research program says: “the brain is constantly picking up signals while we are drinking and eating to gain as much as it can about the experience. Sound is a large factor in this whether we realise it or not.” As a result, the drinking menu consists of three categories Bass, Mid and Treble.
They have connected the senses of hearing and taste to create a fine drinking music bar. They also treat your visual sense. Calm and elegant architecture creates a place to meet friends, relax, sip a drink or two and listen to selected music.
The design is Scandinavian, with simple glassware and noble water carafes. The space is framed by two glass fronts which give the place a bright feeling. What caught my eye first were the lights: big glass bowls with plants inside. They are real and will be watered every week. Opposite the bar there is a huge wall with metal panels where ivory comes out, this one was real but has been mummified. The vibe is great, you can take a seat outside, have a nice cup of exquisite coffee and a snack, too. Brunch-style sandwiches, freshly made salads and for the late night eaters some bar food.
The DJ’s booth is the centrepiece as well as the bar, so let’s have a closer look at the menu. Beside the cocktails, you will find an outstanding spirit list with true craft from small distillers and no bullshit. The innumerous bottles that are lined up are very well chosen.
The rum selection, especially, is a big wow factor. They keep an extra eye on small distilleries.
None other than Nikos Arvanitis, a true genius about rum, is responsible for the selection. With his passion and dedication, he is trying to spread the traditional rum production process and upholding the classification (Gargano/Seale) of pure rum. They have also kept an eye on other distillates that you will find in the well-stocked backbar.
My first drink in the early evening was Amontillado Sherry based from the Bass category. Sine: a concoction waving on the dry sherry notes, the sweetness of the orgeat, apricot brandy and the fruitiness of lime and grapefruit bitters. Refreshing and nicely balanced.
Later, I opted for the Shrill Twinker, originally an old electronic vinyl from the 90s, that has become a drink in the Treble category of the menu. I love this wonderful Clairin Sajous, a sugarcane spirit from Haiti. The taste is incredible, exotic fruits, banana and lots of ester gives the main character. Also, the bottle label is an artwork in itself. You can see a drawing of the village and the sugarcane plantation where the product comes from. Furthermore, you can find details about the raw material, region, the fermentation and distillation process and the distiller’s name. The 53.3 % vol ABV was mixed with some Mastiha, Ferrand Dry Curacao, lime and rounded off with Peychaud’s Bitters.
Recipe of Shrill Twinker
45 ml Clairin Sajous
15 ml chamomile syrup
10 ml Skinos Mastiha
10 ml Ferrand Dry Curacao
3 dash Peychaud’s bitters
25 ml lime
Shaken and serve with ice and lemongrass. A must try and a must visit.
Stathis, Tito and the whole bar team, I wish you all the best and every success for this very special oasis. Thank you for providing the beautiful pictures.