In the magical world of bars, there is a word that separates good from great: concept, meaning the philosophy that underlines every detail in the menu, the space and the overall aesthetic.
In order for a bar to put that across, the team behind it must be experienced and confident. Baba Au Rum has that in spades. Having opened 7 years ago, owner Thanos Prunarus felt like one cycle had ended. He’s changing the logo, the menu and the whole drinking experience in his bar.
Baba Au Rum is shaking off its Tiki label but remaining a rum based bar. It’s drawing inspiration from the great art movements of the early 20th century, with a particular focus on Avant Garde and Futurism. These elements come through in Kostas Theocharis’ menu illustrations, which were almost exclusively done by hand. Design is another way of putting across what Prunarus and his team are after, the freedom to be creative. Baba Au Rum is moving away from its ‘return to classics’ ethos, which has been replicated around the world with Jerry Thomas as its figurehead as he was the first person to put his recipes to print.
The new, vol.7 menu, starts with ‘Avant
Garde Cocktails’ or else ‘ the cocktails you should try at least once in your
life’. Thanos Prunarus, Elias Stergiopoulos, Nikos Gartzolakis and Fedonas
Papakonstantinou are looking for innovation in the bar scene, especially during
such a unique moment in the socio-political sense. This category won’t be static and it includes
19 cocktails which showcase the bar staff’s confidence. ‘The cocktails have been created to be liked
by everyone’ says Thanos, something which is evident as he’s achieved the
ultimate balance between flavours. You
won’t be looking for ‘something sweet’ or ‘something sour’ or ‘something gin
based’. In the Avant Garde section, the
descriptions are detailed and full of mystery and their goal is to offer a new
taste experience, accessible by a larger audience. The Love of Zero for example
is a refreshing cocktail which apparently is ‘the best drink of 2015’, made
from a secret mix and combined with tomato water, plenty of bergamot, lemon and
orange flower aromas. This drink has a
savoury feeling bordering on umami which can be an introduction to the Fluxus
Milk Punch which is a completely different proposition, described as a
‘surreally popular brunch’. Made with
Spanish brandy, Jamaica rum, exotic spices, cherries, vanilla and soya milk,
this is a rich and filling cocktail. The
new menu concept can be summed up by Conceptual Form, a cocktail which in an
international first, reintroduces a syrup lost in time which followed a
Fassionola recipe. This is a Tiki
ingredient that Baba Au Rum was asked to re-imagine for Ben Reed, a man at the
forefront of international drink marketing.
The Avant Garde menu is about new flavours, a new beginning, innovation
The second chapter in the new Baba Au Rum menu is Rum Society, made up of 9 recipes the majority of which are the classics the team has always recommended. This category includes the Zombie, Mai Tai (with the ability to choose between 3 types of rum) and some house recipes, which have become staples over the last 7 years.
If there is one thing I’m taking away from this visit, it is that, since Baba Au Rum has already made the international bar top 50, it can now look towards its future with some well deserved confidence. It’s becoming more outward looking and leaving its strict attitude behind that involved insisting or even telling customers what to drink. There are also some other details which are signalling the new era: the constantly updated website with a menu analysis, the soon to be launched blog, the social media updates, the QR code which allows you to check the menu on your phone, the menus in two languages and the introduction of a Happy Hour.Klitiou 6, Athens
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