The Clumsies: Athens comes to London with exclusive cocktail pop-up
In early March, Athens came to London when the Clumsies held a special residency at St James Bar, a spellbinding venue in the elegant five-star Sofitel. Co-owner Nikos Bakoulis and bartender Christos Stratigos delighted visitors with a bespoke selection of their signature cocktails. It was just before the lockdown and we decided to wait and show you what they did just now that bars seem to have regular visitors again.
Inside, the atmosphere was buzzing and the bar was bustling. Breaking the tight competition between the UK and US, who have consistently dominated the top ten bars over the last decade, in recent years the Clumsies ranked highly in the World’s 50 Best Bars, coming sixth twice. The concept is pretty simple and is as clear as their concoctions: making drinks that use the best Greek flavours and twisting the classics with ingredients that showcase modern techniques and push the boundaries of science and taste. It’s not surprising that among the inspiring figures of their team there are quite a few chefs, such as Heston Blumenthal, who champion full-bodied flavours. Starting off during the recession in Greece and on a tight budget, the bar boasts tipples that shine even more for their creativity.
On the night of our tasting, the recipes remained pretty much the same as their originals, although a few of the liqueurs had been adapted to the British palate. We began with the Highball Gimlet. In this drink, the Ketel One and apple geranium are mixed with London Essence Grapefruit, rather than a more Peloponnesian extract. It’s fizzy, but what hit the taste buds most were the floral notes. A more intense option with a sweeter undertone is the Tea Ceremony, featuring shiitake mushrooms, ginger, mango and honey and elegantly presented in a wine glass with clear ice.
When using stronger spirits, the Clumsies’ gifted touch is fully expressed. Clear Soup is a delicious punch for the unaware drinker. A smooth blend of Casamigos Blanco Tequila, hops, coconut and pineapple sherry sets the mouth on fire when the decorative external powder – carbonised celery and lime – slips through the lips. Synthesis, the establishment’s revisited version of a Negroni, is less of a shock but probably one of the favourites for its intense character. Tanqueray London Dry Gin is reinforced by white beetroot and vermouth, while a cocoa scent softens the whole.
Despite many break-up talks with the continent, it is a pleasure to see London continuing to attract European talent with its charm and booming drinks scene. And with two leading players such as Bakoulis and Stratigos, this pop-up resulted in an exclusive and delectable feast.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at The Clumsies: Athens comes to London with exclusive cocktail pop-up, 6 Waterloo Pl St James’s London SW1Y 4AN, call or visit their website here.