On my return to Athens, it was time to visit another bartender. My friend Thanos recommended me a young talented female bartender. I jumped into a taxi and drove down to Glyfada to meet Fenia at the Ark.
Fenia was born in 1992 in Athens. After completing her compulsory schooling, she decided to study food technology and nutrition. However, she never completed her studies because, as so often is the case, passion stepped in. During her studies, she always worked – especially in summer where she came in contact with gastronomy and hospitality working as a waiter in a café/restaurant. From there, she moved to a hotel and later to bars. But it was not until she started working at Clumsies, that she realised that there is much more to the cocktail world. She started loving spirits and cocktails and everything relating to mixology. Fenia enjoyed her studies. It was an interesting field to study, but she already knew that she did not want to work in that field later on. She does not rule out picking up her studies again a few years down the road. The cocktail virus was too contagious – not only as a customer, but working as a bartender, it was getting even more contagious. The door opener was Clumsies, where she met a lot of bartenders from all around the world. From there, she recently moved to Ark to run the bar in this restaurant/bar establishment in Glyfada. 2017 was a successful year for Fenia; winning the Lady Amarena competition, which is an event just for female bartenders worldwide.
Ark is actually more like a restaurant with a bar that opened a bit more than 3 years ago. Up until recently, the place did not have a bar life, but that is why Fenia came in to give it a new face. Already in summer, they worked with a temporary outside bar, to attract more cocktail drinkers. The place itself focuses on Greek and Mediterranean cuisine and particularly on seafood, since it is located right on the waterfront. A new cocktail menu is coming out seasonally and the trend for the clients is to order more and more cocktails. It is a form of entertainment and the owner has realised that potential.
Fenia is still a youngster in the mixology industry and as such, she is influenced and inspired primarily by classic cocktails. She is eagerly learning from the great cocktails books from the past and the present. Whenever she can, she visits other bars, to see what the competition is doing. More and more often, she lets herself be inspired by her customers’ moods and the flavours they like.
Her cocktail of choice is the Negroni. It only has 3 ingredients, but depite this, it holds the ultimate and maximum flavour. Moreover, she is a huge gin fan, but likes variations of Negronis too. The bitter flavour is another aspect for it being her favourite. If no Negroni is available, she goes for the good old G&T as her drink of choice.
Understandably, Baba Au Rum in Athens. The bar is very cosy and the people are very friendly. It is like a family, especially with the staff, and Thanos adds much to this extraordinary atmosphere. The music is a further factor which make the excellent drinks even more enjoyable. The perfect place for a good night out. Fenia has not yet travelled much, as she is still young, but a bar she would love to visit is the American Bar at the Savoy in London.
The future of the bar world
Greek bartenders have been making huge progress over the last years and will certainly continue to do so in the future. Many bars have felt the economic downturn, but through quality and creativity, the Greeks will also find the time and resources to enjoy a good drink in the future. Especially now that cocktails are getting more and more popular in the city. Fenia is hoping that cocktail menus will be getting more simple again. She hopes that the fancy trend will wear out in the future.
Fenia loves the centre of Athens a lot. It is very lively. There are always new things to discover and it is not so huge that you may lose yourself. One finds everything one desires. It is definitely home for her, since she has lived there her whole life. Leaving has never been an option so far, even though she likes to travel because she is very fond of her hometown and its community.
To start to drink! Literally meaning starting to work in the bar industry. She loves the contact with people and the creativity out there.
Target in life
To travel the world. She wants to learn something new every day, since it is very important in this line of work. Eventually having her own bar is an idea that comes naturally to a bartender.
Images: © Thomas Chalastanis