The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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Thodoris Pirillos’ The Golden Flip

Thodoris Pirillos represented Greece at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

A for Athens is a hotel in the heart of the Greek capital: right by Monastiraki metro station, overlooking the lively throng of Ermou (the main thoroughfare of the historic centre) which has jaw-dropping views of the Acropolis from each of the 35 rooms. It opened two years ago and is modern, smart and straightforward. The bar occupies the top floor and is open all day until the small hours. It’s modern and quite minimalist, because the decoration is the view, so soak up the sights of ancient Athens without having to move from your chair. When it cools off outside grab a table by the bar and chat with the very personable Theodoros while enjoying the gentle retro/nostalgic mix of Greek and international music.

The Bartender

Winner of World Class in Greece, Thodoris Pirillos, 35, has been working in the industry since 1998, though the desire to be a bartender goes way back. ‘I was infected when I was five years old on my first visit to my uncle’s bar,’ he believes, ‘a new magic world had been discovered and I wanted to be part of it.’ After working in a series of high-end and high-volume clubs and bars (Doors, Perfect Ten, Messiah), Thodoris now enjoys the opportunity of working at a very relaxed lounge with a less hectic pace: ‘I can be myself, and evolve and craft top-notch drinks with my team – A for Athens is my solace.’ He thinks that a knowledge of the classics is fundamental, ‘and you should be attentive to your guests – keep your eyes and ears open, always.’ He lists Steven Olson and Sasha Petraske (Milk & Honey) among those who inspire him.

The Drink

‘In Greece we have a very rich selection of produce,’ explains Thodoris, ‘I use a lot of mastic liqueur, olive oil, citruses and I also like some of the fortified and aromatised wines.’ In this recipe he uses the delicious local staple, wildflower honey. ‘I made the Golden Flip as a way to engage someone who doesn’t normally enjoy whisky.’ To make the syrup Thodoris blends honey with warm water (at a ratio of 3:2), augmented with a vanilla pod and orange peel, while the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve is infused with tahini, a form of sesame paste, for two days (1 dessert spoon per 250ml) before straining through a coffee filter. The result is deliciously rich, thanks to the Gold Label Reserve and the egg, rather like sipping a fortified liquid ice cream.


The Technique

Tahini infused Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve • 50ml
Lillet Blanc • 15ml
Homemade honey syrup • 15ml
Bergamot bitters • 2 dashes
Apricot brandy • 2 dashes
One whole egg
Contains 23 grams of alcohol per serve

Dry shake all ingredients. Shake again with ice. Serve straight up in a goblet glass.

The Golden Flip is best enjoyed after dinner, but if you can’t wait that long, try it with Manchego cheese and apricot jam, to complement the fruit brandy in the cocktail. Take a table on the terrace as afternoon gives way to evening both in the skies above and the city beneath your feet.

Thodoris’ Insider’s Guide to Athens

Place to stay
A for Athens

Place to eat

Place to relax
Baba au Rum

Place to lounge
Spiti in Halandri

Place to shop

Place to visit

Images by Dionyssis Matiatos