Some people think it takes luck to win awards. Pah! The rest of us know that it really boils down to sheer determination and bloody hard work. Take The Clumsies for instance. Ever since bright-minded entrepreneurs Lefteris Georgopoulos, Thanos Tsounakas and Giorgos Kaisaris teamed up with award-winning bartenders Vasilis Kyritsis and Nikos Bakoulis to open their eponymous bar in Athens three years ago, the team have worked tirelessly to get their talents, venue and the whole of Athens’ drinking scene for that matter, on the international stage.
It’s paid off too. The numerous awards they’ve picked up in the relatively short time that they’ve been operating is testament to that. There’s the 2018 Tourism Award in recognition of the stirling work they’ve done to promote Athens, and the little matter of being listed at no. 6 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Then just last week their outstanding efforts were rewarded with the coveted Best International High Volume Bar at the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail. And by golly, do they deserve it. This latest, most prestigious accolade goes some way to acknowledging the amazing hospitality, countless guest shifts, numerous presentations and inspiring initiatives the team dream up on a regular basis. Like Explore Greece, the recent collaboration with the quintessential Greek spirit, Metaxa.
Not content with putting Athens on the map, they want to spread the word about the natural beauty and many moods of their historic Mother County. And where better to start than its breathtaking islands? It’s not as if there are a shortage of them. Get this: there are a mind-blowing 6,000 to choose from, most of them are uninhabited but even so, a whopping 227 of them are. Little wonder why The Clumsies want the rest of the world to think beyond the capital and check out its many gems.
Of course, this being The Clumsies, their vision for an Explore Greece initiative was far from ordinary. They way they saw it was that they would charter a yacht – as you do, collaborate with some of their favourite bartenders from around the world – as they can, and spread joy, awareness (and great drinks) at selected Greek islands to specially invited guests – as they did. In spectacular fashion. That’s down to the bond they share with fellow collaborators, the quintessential Greek spirit, Metaxa.
When two forward-thinking, completely driven brands like these get together you can expect nothing short of amazing. Which is exactly what we experienced when we joined Metaxa and The Clumsies on their epic crusade. Starting in Mykonos and winding through to Antiparos, then on to Paros, the five day adventure brought some incredible bartending talent together for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, spending their days sailing the Cyclades archipelago, while every other evening saw them serving up their Greek island-inspired cocktails at a truly breathtaking location on one of the selected islands. Erik Lorincz formerly Head Bartender at the World’s Best Bar (official), hosted the Mykonos leg; Leo Robitschek from America’s Best High Volume Cocktail Bar, the NoMad in New York took on Antiparos, and Kostas Ignatiadis from everybody’s favourite bar in Germany, Schumann’s in Munich was running the event at Paros. Stepping in as expert bar backs were Vasilis and Nikos from The Clumsies.
Was it a success? You bet your booty it was. Not just for Metaxa and The Clumsies, plus the invited bartenders and guests but for the islands chosen to host the first Explore Greece initiative. We’re keeping everything crossed that this is the first of many more but in the meantime, we checked in with The Clumsies to find out how it went behind-the-scenes.
Where did the Explore Greece by boat event idea come from?
The partnership between Metaxa and The Clumsies came naturally: we have so much in common. In addition to a strong attachment to our Greek roots and soul, we share the same vision: revealing the authenticity of the original Greek spirit to the world by bringing alive our passion for unique drinking experiences.
This new journey together pays tribute to our homeland, highlighting Greece’s beauty and the wonders of its nature. And what better way to explore Greece’s islands if not by sailing?
Tell us about the boat?
As we decided to live the experience by sailing, we started to look for a boat that could welcome all the bartenders as a family. But both Metaxa and us had something specific in mind: an authentic boat to share an authentic experience. When we visited it, a 27-metre length classic motor-sailing yacht, we immediately knew it was the one: its high-quality materials and genuine vibe perfectly matched the vision we had of our journey through the Aegan sea. And it fitted the Metaxa and The Clumsies family very well: we had 12 people on board in total!
Why Mykonos, Paros and Antiparos and what are the characteristics of each island?
Mykonos, Paros and Antiparos are three iconic Greek islands, but yet very different in terms of experiences. Each island embodies a facet of Greece’s exploration.
Mykonos is the most iconic island of the Cyclades. Aside from its vibrant lifestyle, it’s unique for its magical setting in the center of the Cyclades archipelago.
Antiparos is a remote, peaceful Cycladic heaven where the natural environment remains untouched. Its crystal-clear waters and deserted cove that can only be reached by boat have turned Antiparos into one of the hidden gems of the Cyclades. This tiny preserved paradise offers all the beauty of the Cyclades. Octopus hanging to dry, a cocktail in hands and a chat with friends are the ingredients for a timeless evening in Antiparos.
Paros and its main town Naoussa, one of the best spot to enjoy Greek finest gastronomy. With its traditional architecture, blue and white-washed houses and picturesque port, the stunning Chora of Naoussa offers an authentic experience of Cycladic life.
Please tell us about the three evenings and how each activation matched the specific island?
Each experience was very specific to the island setting and vibe. The first stop in Mykonos was a cocktail party with a breathtaking view on Mykonos chora and on a stunning sunset. Erik Lorincz, host of the night, explored Mykonos by creating five cocktails to experience the magical vibe of the island. His creation, Island of Winds (below) invited guests to feel the delicate breeze of Mykonos…
The second stop was Antiparos where guests were invited to experience a special night by the sea, on the sand, gazing at the stars and exploring Metaxa cocktails in the full beauty of Greek nature. Leo Robitschek, who loves to come to Greece almost every year, created five cocktails inspired by Antiparos’ wild nature, using several emblematic Greek ingredients such as olive oil and yogurt.
The third and final stop of this sensorial journey was Paros, to explore probably the most prestigious gastronomy of the Cycladic islands. After enjoying modern Greek food in a well-known taverna of Naoussa charming harbour, Kostas Ignatiadis invited the guests to continue the exploration of Greece’s wonders with five refreshing creations such as the Metaxa Julep (below), made using fresh coriander.
You’ve each created drinks for your nights/islands, tell us about the cocktails and how you approached them?
To be honest, creating cocktails for the Explore Greece events was very easy. Greece has so much to offer, we were all very inspired from the beginning. Metaxa is the most popular spirit in Greece: it reminds you Greece’s aromas in one sip. We feel lucky to have this opportunity to pay tribute to these three amazing destinations using Metaxa 12 stars, the original Greek spirit.
What characteristics does Metaxa 12 bring to your cocktail making game?
As is it a unique spirit, Metaxa 12 Stars brings a new touch to the cocktail creation, something very different of what we, the bartenders, and also the clients are used to. Being highly versatile, the possibilities with Metaxa 12 Stars are almost infinite in terms of creation and that’s a great advantage as people are more and more adventurous when they go out to cocktail bars. They are willing to explore something new and Metaxa totally matches this trend.
How was life on the boat?
Life on the boat was fantastic, it has been a great occasion to share this experience all together. Of course, there was a lot of work making sure that the three events ran smoothly but it was also a lot of fun: enjoying the beauty of the islands by sailing with 12 bartenders and friends on board…it was simply magical, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Which other Greek islands should cocktail lovers explore and why?
It depends on what kind of experience you are looking for: partying, relaxing, enjoying nature, looking for a quiet spot… Each island has its own atmosphere.
Now, our favourite islands are Kimolos and Koufonisia.
Do you have plans for any more Explore Greece activities?
We hope Explore Greece to be a long-term collaboration, to continue exploring Greece with Metaxa and The Clumsies family!
Exploring Mykonos with Erik Lorincz
Island of Winds (Metaxa 12 Stars, apricot, citrus, roasted chickpeas, mezcal infused with Kopanisti Mykonian cheese)
Exploring Antiparos with Leo Robitschek
Arni (Metaxa 12 Stars, green tea yoghurt, lemon juice, cachaça, agave syrup, juniper spirit)
Exploring Paros with Kostas Ignatiadis
Metaxa Julep (Metaxa 12 Stars, fresh coriander, sugar cane, lemon)
Visiting Athens this summer? Check in to The Clumsies and ask for a Metaxa Gimlet.