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People sit at a restaurant and watch a live TV interview with the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras.
AP Photo/Petros Karadjias
Cheers.
WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR PAIN

Here’s how the Greek financial crisis looks from behind the bar

By Melvin Backman

As Greece steps back from the brink of economic anarchy (paywall), a few drinks might be in order. But after the Greek government imposed capital controls to lock down the financial sector and avert a panic, there may not be many bars left standing.

Difford’s Guide, a self-described “global authority on cocktail culture,” talked to a few folks from the Greek bar scene to find out just how bad things have become. For one, the difficulty of moving money in and out of the country made it a lot harder to import foreign booze, among other things.

“In the meantime, I have to admit that we have started facing some shortages in imported ingredients, i.e. of potato chips since our importer could not import over the past weeks.” -Lelos Georgopoulos, bar owner

In order to get around some of those constraints, Greek bars used everything from creative pricing…

“We also faced a big problem with cash flow since ATM’s ran out of 20 Euro bills within two weeks so every customer only carried 50-euro bills. So if for example, if we’d normally charge 13 euros for two drinks instead we’re charging 10 euros since we have no change.” - Alexandros Sourbatis, bar manager

…to good, old-fashioned hoarding.

“…a bar-restaurant in Mykonos purchased 120 bottles of Dom Perignon, paying in cash, in order to be able to meet the demand of foreign tourists.” - Sotiris Georgiou, sommelier

But now that Greece has more or less reached a deal with its creditors, it’s set to (very slowly) remove capital controls, enabling people to begin focusing on the latest crisis’s aftermath.

Some industry folks definitely perceive an air of doom…

“You see, this equation incorporates less customers, with a limited budget allocated to something considered as luxury at the back of their minds, while at the same time, running costs, and taxation are going to be increased further. It’s a vicious circle.” - Chris Houseas, bartender

…though others see the glass as half-full…

“Being on top of the breaking news worldwide for the last five years or so, Greece became the talk of the town gaining an awareness level that no advertisement would have accomplished, and all that awareness seems to have worked just fine, at least in our wine exports sector.” - Stelios Boutaris, wine maker

…and others still didn’t let a chance escape to take shots at their quasi-nemeses, the Germans.

“I strongly believe that for Germans i.e., with a much more rationalized way of thinking, it would have taken a decade before they go out of their houses even for a visit to a local Bierhaus, if they had to deal with a crisis like this one.” – Konstantinos Lazarakis, importer