Wine & Spirits

At Athens’ Iconic Noel Bar, the Magic of Christmas is Forever

December 23, 2019

ATHENS – “For we need a little Christmas right this very minute” says Auntie Mame, and in Athens you can get it all year long – yes, Athens, Greece. The warm and quirky Noel bar-restaurant-coffeeshop is just a few blocks from the most heavilly trafficked parts of the Greek capital, and while tourists are directed there, Greek-Americans have to stumble upon it, but when they find it, the serendipity of ho-ho-ho in summer or spring is wonderful.

The myriad nooks and crannies accented by fine reproductions of famous paintings and suffused with jazz, rock, American standards, and other international music spun by excellent DJs are ideal for dates and gatherings of friends – there is also a private party room upstairs.

It is an historic space with a touch of elegance. Once upon a time the building housing Noel was famous for its many tiny shops – leather goods, jewelry, etc. After the burning of Smyrna, it housed refugees from that great but ill-fated city.

Five years ago, deep in the latest Greek crisis, the owners – Christos Efkratidis, Fani Spyridaki, and Aris Doukas – thought a bit of Christmas spirit was just the thing to sprinkle into the heart of the sprawling city – and the people of Athens embraced it, like a child hugging Santa at Macy’s, and it quickly outgrew its original space.

The elegant yet fun feel and flavor are born of Spyridaki’s aesthetic sense and the atmosphere is enhanced by fine food and Noel’s signature cocktails.

During The National Herald’s visit Maria Mourani, who began to work there two years ago and is now the Event Manager, was a gracious host, happy to share the story of the unique venue.

“It’s Christmas all year long,” she said, beckoning to the permanent lights and ornaments, “but this time of year we shine – every year we add decorations according to a special theme. This year it’s the Enchanted Forest,” she said as she pointed out trees and branches gathered on beloved Mt. Pelion in Central Greece.

Architecturally every subspace is a little different, planned to present some surprises to the guests – like the feeling children have as they are about to open their Christmas presents.

What Noel offers most of all is the feeling is “being your home for Christmas, all year long” said Mourani, who added that patrons who feel staff’s welcoming energy enjoy coming several times a year for their doses of Christmas.

“And we want every time they come to be an experience, from the food to the drinks to the music, not just a visit to another restaurant.”

The experience this reporter is looking forward to next is Noel’s ‘Chocolate Tower’ – “so much chocolate you can’t handle it” she said with her warmest and most delicious Christmas smile.




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