The Bon Vivant – A Greek in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is also known as “The Athens of the North”. Definitly not because of the weather. One reason is the architecture. Many buildings have been constructed in the style of classical Rome and Greece. The National Monument on Calton Hill, which resembles the Acropolis in Athens, gives the main Greek touch to the skyline of Edinburgh.
Another reason why I travelled to Edinburgh was a Greek guy now working in Edinburgh. George Terzakis moved to Edinburgh half year ago. We met in April 2016 for the first time, when he was still working in Thessaloniki. He is well-known in the Greek bar scene and now you can find him at The Bon Vivant, a bar that opened its doors in 2008 and has recently been named cocktail bar of the year at the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards.
When I met George at The Bon Vivant my first question was: Why did you choose Edinburgh? “I chose Edinburgh because of its perfect size as a city, no-stress life-style and nice people”, was his immediate answer. I fully understand what he means, because I fell in love with Edinburgh at first sight. It is full of fantastic bars and the bartenders are friendly, relaxed and unpretentious.
If you enter The Bon Vivant a warm atmosphere welcomes you. The wood interior, the great dark blue colour and its candlelights create a charming place. It is a restaurant bar and was awarded as the Best International Restaurant Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Spirited Awards. Eat and drink, I love this so much. The food philosophy is a selection of simple but well executed dishes that focus on flavour and quality produce. Excellent wine, champagne, cocktails and some classic and rare spirits are served. Bon vivants are people who enjoy the good things in life and it is a fitting name for this place.
The dishes are tasty and the drinks are extremely well balanced and delicious. Maybe this is due to the wine expertise and sometimes I have the feeling that if there is a restaurant involved the drinks are more refined.
Every drink I had was a superstar. At The Bon Vivant, they are focused on creating great drinks with a combination of new and old fashioned techniques and always an amazing extra.
My first drink of choice was a refreshing highball. Swizzle Kicks based on rum with Scot and Fin Rye Gin, guava, ginger, citrus and all spices. Next I opted for the beautiful looking Lost World with Hendrick’s Gin, pineapple syrup, dill akvavit, citrus, pickle brine. The garnish looked lovely. King’s Park is a drink to remember and was created by George himself. A solid sweetness and a present smokiness. Rich and complex in taste, the nose full of truffle: mount gay black barrel rum, Dalmore 12y, illegal Mezcal, cocchi Rosso, truffle olive oil.
You can also find some barrel finished cocktails on the menu. They have re-created some favourite classic cocktails and aged them in barrels that have been tempered and seasoned with either a wine or spirit to produce a cocktail with an extra dimension. You have to try the Bramble or the Negroni.
Just on the other side of the road from The Bon Vivant you will find the best Mexican food so far. Served with an extensive range of tequilas, mezcals, cocktails and frozen margaritas. It is hard to get a table without a reservation. While you are waiting you can warm your Mexican taste buds with some tequila classics. El Cartel is actually the sister venue of The Bon Vivant and you will find a category on the menu called “Waiting for El Cartel?”
I was draining my glass and, as a parting shot, I asked George what he will bring to the local bar scene and what will they give to him. George came to Edinburgh and brought the unique Mediterranean way of hospitality with him. I am pretty sure the guests will love him for that. I asked him what he can learn from the Edinburgh bar scene. “Their way of working brings for me a really professional and hardworking spirit. Also their knowledge about whisky and gin is incredible.” Thank you so much for this delicious adventure, I enjoyed every single minute at this place.