Aris Chatziantoniou & 1974 – One of Heering´s 200 year

Words by: Theodora Sutcliffe

1974 was a bittersweet year for Greece, says Aris Chatziantoniou, the leading light of molecular mixology in Athens and co-owner of MoMix Bar. First came crisis, as Turkey, Greece’s historic rival, invaded the little island nation of Cyprus, sparking fears of war. Next came joy, as the military dictatorship that had ruled Greece crumbled and democracy returned to the country that invented both the concept and the word.

“After seven years of dictatorship and the fear about the war, people had not been allowed to go out, not allowed to drink alcohol till late,” Chatziantoniou says. “But once the Greeks knew we were going to have political parties and democracy, then bars started to open late and the people started drinking again.”

Holding Onto H, his anniversary cocktail, which he serves with the glass held in a mannequin’s hand, captures not only the celebrations of that year but its bittersweet nature. “The whole experience of the drink is bitter, like the start of the year 1974, but you still have the sweet sensation because there are good things coming,” Chatziantoniou explains. “You get all the sweetness and the cherry, and then you get the most bitter taste from the herbs and the botanicals.”

The H in the name? That could stand for Hellas (Greek for ‘Greece’) – or Heering. Signature Greek elements run from the mastiha bubbles served on the side to the lemon balm and Greek sage infused in the vermouth; Heering’s distinctive cherry notes figure in both the liquid and the bubbles.

The turbulent ebb and flow of Greece’s recent history has shaped cocktail culture just as much as it has shaped family life or architecture. Born in Athens, Chatziantoniou started washing glasses in a bar aged 18, and has been bartending since the late 90s, mainly in Greece. For him, the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which sparked the debt crisis that has shaped Greek life for the last decade, also helped drive the creativity of Athens’ famously inventive cocktail scene.

“2007, 2008 was the beginning of the economic crisis. People weren’t going out a lot, so when they did go out, they wanted to have something different, not a vodka and coke, not a whisky and ginger ale, but something innovative,” he says. “At the same time, with the crisis there were loads of journalists writing about what’s going on in Greece. When you have journalists, they drink a lot, they go out a lot, and when they were seeing new drinks and innovative cocktails, one thing led to another.”

When Chatziantoniou opened MoMix with his business partner Thodoris Koutsovoulos, it was 2012, close to the peak of the debt crisis. The Greek economy was shrinking at over 6% per year, with unemployment at over 20%. Opening any bar was a bold move. Opening a bar dedicated to the fine art of molecular mixology – time-consuming drinks that often require expensive kit and accessories – seemed crazy.

Not to Chatziantoniou, however. “First of all, I thought it was a really good idea: if you believe the idea is a good idea, you keep doing it,” he says. “I believe that no matter what happens around you, if you’re really sincere and really truthful about what you’re doing, you’re always going to have good results.”

Chatziantoniou fell in love with the idea of molecular mixology in the mid-aughts. His friends were starting to progress in flair bartending (Cherry Heering was popular, he recalls, because the square, flat base was easy to work with), and he was looking for something different. “I did a couple of courses and I realised there were so many interesting things behind molecular gastronomy,” he recalls. “I found that when we combine chemistry with alcohol and the consumer, then you can create amazing experiences for the people you’re hosting.”

Today, Chatziantoniou’s drinks are sufficiently technical and his lab well-enough equipped for him to present at the University of Athens. But whether he’s carbonating cocktails with dry ice or creating an alcoholic macaron with many layers of flavours and viscosity, it’s the guest, not the science, that’s at the heart of what he does.

“People think molecular mixology has to do with foams and jellies, but it has a whole lot to do with the psychology of the consumer – and the more information you have, the closer you can get to the consumer and give them what they want,” he says. “When you’re making a macaron, it’s not just making a macaron that’s alcohol based, but creating experiences, changing what people think when they bite into it.” And whether what greets them is the bitter aromatics of Fernet Branca or the sweet viscosity of a cherry-filled mastiha bubble, it’s always an experience to remember.

Handing Over H 

3 cl Heering

3 cl dry vermouth infused with Greek herbs

1 cl fernet Branca

0.5 homemade  spicy liqueur

2 dash of salt solution (1 part salt, 6 water)

2 dash black walnut bitter

Garnish: Served on a side with masticha bubbles, (spherify the masticha using alginate and calcium lactate), injected with Heering and sprayed with grapefruit zest

Method: Stirred

Glass: Balloon

 

Cherry Heering as taste reference on life.nationalpost.com

Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Greek wines

Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro 2008
LCBO No. 178020; $18.95 (88 Points)
Xinomavro is a high acid grape producing a red with its own personality — some liken the style to nebbiolo or pinot noir. This deep garnet wine from Greece’s Naoussa region has a berry nose with cinnamon bark notes. The taste is savoury, dry and crisp with flavours of black olive and Cherry Heering liqueur. Firm tannins and solid oak will allow it to age well for years.

Karoulias announces: top position for Greece

The following is posted on Karoulias website (the distributor of Heering in Greece):

The highest distinction took Greece’s participation in the Heering World Championship 2009, the global competition in “fashion mixing & drink designing” organised by Cherry Heering® liqueur, the original Cherry Liqueur since 1818. The Grand Final took place on June 3 & 4 in Singapore awarding top honors in the fashion competition to Mr. Loukas-Athanasios Alifraghis, the young, talented student of IEK AKMI Fashion Design School and his Heering-inspired “dramatic” dress made of red, silk taffetas. Mr. Eiji Miyazawa from Japan was the winner of the mixologists competition, while Stephanos Paraskevoudis, the Greek finalist in this category, was also highly commented by the jury for his cocktail participation.

The Grand Final was glamorously held in the legendary Raffles Hotel, the place where, in 1915, the famous Singapore Sling, Heering’ s signature cocktail, was born. A unique experience and a great opportunity for international acknowledgment await the winners of the competition: Mr. Alifraghis will have the honour to present his own runway show at the internationally acclaimed Copenhagen Fashion Week (Spring/Summer 2010) while Mr Miyazawa will soon have his own cocktail book created together with Peter F. Heering.

More than 10.000 participants worldwide submitted their contributions to The Heering World Championship 2009, from more than 100 countries ranging across the globe. Of these, 15 countries qualified directly and through the open class and were represented at the global final at the Raffles Hotel. The mixologists were invited to create a Heering cocktail inspired by a unique haute couture dress while designers to design a cocktail dress inspired by a Heering cocktail. In Greece, the preliminary round for the fashion competition was presided by Mr Makis Tselios, the famous Greek fashion designer, while the mixologists competition was held under the auspices of the Greek Barmen Association.

The esteemed jury for mixology and fashion included:
The Heering World Championship 2009 – Mixologys Jury

• Ricky Broni – Owner of the internationally acclaimed gourmet restaurant Mården, Stockholm
• Fredrik Tilander – Owner of The Peter F Heering Liqueur Company
• Clinton Ang – Cornerstone Wines, Singapore
• Camper English, US Mixologist/Writer, San Francisco Chronicle and Imbibe Magazine
• Derrick Lee – President of The International Bartender Association
• Jean-Marc Poli – Hotel Manager, Raffles Hotel
• Ms Chan Yoke Kwan, Assistant Director Tourism Shopping & Dining – The Singapore Tourism Board

The Heering World Championship 2009 – Fashion Jury

• Lars Wallin – Internationally acclaimed maestro of Swedish haute couture
• Jörgen Tilander – Owner of The Peter F Heering Liqueur Company
• Rebecca Howard – renowned fashion and beauty journalist;
• The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Glamour, You Magazine
• Sharon Lim – Editor-In-Chief, Elle Singapore
• Amy Molyneaux – Designer at British fashion emporium PPQ
• Percy Parker – Designer at British fashion emporium PPQ
• Nicholas Wong – Celebrated designer at Nicholas, Singapore

The Grand Final Winners

Eiji Miyazawa – Japan
Cocktail “Orchard’s Knight”

2,5 cl Heering Cherry Liqueur
1,5 cl Calvados Boulard Grand Solage
1 cl X-rated
0,5 cl De Kuyper Butterscotch Caramel
0,5 cl Fresh Lime Juice
Cinnamon Powder
Raisin with a branch

Loucas-Athanasios Alifraghis – Greece
Dress inspired by “dramatic” Heering Cocktail

Red Silk Taffetas – Black chiffon details

About Cherry Heering® liqueur
A drink with a history of two centuries, based on a secret recipe created in 1818, in Copenhagen, by Peter F. Heering, the Cherry Heering® liqueur – the “original cherry liqueur” – became the inspiration for several of the most famous cocktails in the world. In 1915, Ngiam Tong Boon, bartender at the legendary Raffles Hotel in Singapore, by a stroke of genius, used Cherry Heering® liqueur to create a new, and later on world-famous cocktail: Singapore Sling. At that moment, he unknowingly defined the “core” of Heering’s unique character: A drink that, quite like a fashion accessory, adds lavishness, extravagance and civilization to the mix!

Cherry Heering® liqueur is distributed in Greece by W.S. KAROULIAS.

Press info/Enquiries:
Mary Voyiatzi
W.S. KAROULIAS
tel: (+30) 210 81 41 801
mvoyiatzi@karoulias.gr

http://www.karoulias.gr/en/index.html

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