Opened on New Year’s eve 2015, The Trap is one of the latest additions to Athens’ cocktail scene. A trap ? Not at all, as quoted on the bar’s menu (an excerpt from the novel King Rat by China Miéville), a “trap is only a trap if you don’t know about it. If you know about it, it’s a challenge.” As there are no signage indicating the bar’s presence in a gallery off Syntagma square, stumbling upon it by accident is a bit difficult but, if you know where to go, it’ll be easy to find it.
Once you step into this nevertheless nondescript gallery you’ll quickly see a few tables and chairs with lamps hanging overhead in the alley. The whole scenery was like a blast of the past. I could easily imagine dapper gentlemen at the beginning of the 20th century coming here for a drink.
Walk through the open French windows and you’ll step into the bar. The bar station takes all the back wall and provides most of the room’s light with its illuminated shelves. The dark wallpaper, the light painted ceiling and its moldings, as well as the golden bar shelves and wooden cases gives and old style style to The Trap. The effect was a bit off balanced on my visit though by the bartender and the waiter’s tiki shirts!
My sister and I went to The Trap on a Sunday after dinner circa 10 pm. It was a slow night with only two other tables. We decided to seat inside to have a better view over the bar.
The waiter brought us the menu, a small brochure part menu, part cocktail & restaurant guide for Athens with the addresses of other places around town and space to write down our own directions. Quite a nice idea I thought so I asked to keep it and the waiter was happy to let me take a copy home. Once I started flipping through the cocktail lists I realized there were much more drinks in the brochure than on the bar’s website.
Except for the cover printed on a thick glossed paper with a matte finish and a folded page inside, the pages are printed on normal paper sheets that can be easily printed on a house printer. If the goal is that guests walk away with their menu, it makes sense not to invest in high quality but rather in quantity.
The menu starts with a picture of “Dromeas”, also known as “The Runner”, a glass sculpture by Kostas Varotsos. Why, I don’t know. Turn the page and you’ll find a picture of the bar’s signage. Lift the folded left page and you’ll find the aforementioned quote from King Rat. You then get to the table of contents with coffee & beverages (i.e. teas, homemade lemonades, juices and soft drinks), beer, wine, the different cocktail categories, the address book to write down your finds and “our Athens”, a list of The Trap’s recommendations.
The menu comprises 9 cocktail categories, each comprising 4 cocktails. There are coffee based cocktails, aperitifs and champagne drinks, sours, herbs & bitters, “spirit forward”, highballs & fizzes, tropical style & punches, oddities, and, finally, digestifs.
After reading the ingredients for each, I came down with three drinks I was tempted to try: in the “spirit forward” category, the Delinquent Habits with Don Julio Tequila, mezcal, chamomile, celery & coriander bitters got my attention. The Yellow Submarine (Tanqueray n°10 gin, toasted pine orgeat, lemon, hops, turmeric and pineapple fizz from the highballs & fizzes category also seemed pretty good, as did Le Fou Gaston (Caol Ila 12 year Islay Single Malt Whisky, manzanilla sherry, crème de pêche, Lillet Blanc), one of the “oddities” drinks. I narrowed my choices down to three after the waiter recommended either Le Fou Gaston or the Delinquent Habits when I told him I wanted something unusual. I finally ordered the later.
From my position I saw the bartender stir the ingredients in a mixing glass, before pouring them into a rocks glass filled with a large ice cube. Upon smelling the drink I was hard pressed to identify the ingredients but my sister who absolutely dislikes coriander immediately recognized its smell. Tastewise, it was very interesting how each flavor came in turn. First, there was the sweetness of the camomile, then the smokiness of the mezcal, the celery and, finally, the coriander. The cocktail was diluted to perfection and didn’t feel too strong.
As my sister went for her usual glass of white wine and we were both tired, I didn’t get to try another cocktail but the list was really promising. The bar will definitely be worth another visit on a next stop in Athens!