the Piano Bar Blog
News and Stories from The Piano Bar

February 2011
    May »
Back to Our Home Page
Filed under: Tales of Montparnasse the Piano Bar of Mykonos
Posted by: Nikos @ 6:40 pm


Comments Off
Mykonos CockTales
Filed under: Tales of Montparnasse the Piano Bar of Mykonos
Posted by: Nikos @ 6:24 pm

             Tails of the Piano Bar

Montparnasse Piano Bar, Mykonos, Greece
Plus Tales.
During tourist season it seems at times that the entire world is on holiday on Mykonos.  Age, race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or sexual preference makes no difference; that Aegean Greek island is popping for everyone.  But of all the nightspots catering to the myriad sorts contributing to Mykonos’ 24/7 in season lifestyle, just one brings everyone together.  For thirty years, tourists, locals, yachters, Broadway and West End performers, have flocked to the Piano Bar, now located amid the narrow lanes of Little Venice as the Quartier Latin-style Montparnasse Piano Bar sitting at the edge of the sea across a bay from Mykonos’ signature windmills.
Little Venice at sunset
Steve Allen and Jane Meadows
It is the Aegean’s “La Cage au Folles,” sans dancers, for here it’s all about cabaret.  And if you think that guest from the audience who did a song or two seemed familiar, you may be right, for between sunset and two in the morning—when everyone’s off to continue the night in the island’s ‘til sunrise clubs and discos—the Piano Bar is a must stop for visiting musical theater folk.
Nikos and Jody, Proprietors
The Piano Bar is the creation of Nikos Hristodulakis and Jody Duncan, and they’re behind the bar every night, amassing more stories than O’Henry.  I’ve been trying for a while to persuade them to share some tales, hopefully the juicier ones.  They’ve agreed to test the waters, so here’s their first one, chased with a recipe for one of their most popular cocktails.
Montparnasse Piano Bar Tale #1:  “The Red Hot Mama,” as told by a blond Jody leaning over the bar and ignoring the dark-haired Niko making faces behind him.
Mykonos’ Grand Diva, Phyllis Pastore
The place was dead.  It emptied out right after Phyllis’ midnight set.  That happens sometimes.  No matter, it will fill up for her one o’clock gig.  Everybody loves her here.  Some say they come to Mykonos “just to see Phyllis.”  And she believes them.  She should, she’s the Grand Diva of the island when it comes to cabaret and loves to accessorize her songs with props­–none more famous than her bright-yellow foam rubber, McGuire sisters’-style wig and trumpet-shape, silver kazoo.  The kazoo is reserved for her nonpareil performance of “Dr. Jazz,” the Dixieland staple written by Joe “King” Oliver in 1926 and covered by such other notables as Jelly Roll Morton and Harry Connick, Jr.—but none with quite the style of our Phyllis.
So, there I am talking to one of the waiters, and thinking about what kind of mischief I could get into to kill time, when he asks if Phyllis is going to do Dr. Jazz in her next set.   That got me to thinking about Dixieland, which led to thoughts of New Orleans, and on to the subject of…Tabasco!
The scene of the crime
Phyllis was outside the front door talking to some fans, so I told the waiter to grab the kazoo from her basket of props in front of the piano.  With one eye on the door I soaked the mouthpiece in Tabasco and had it back in the basket before she was back inside the bar.  Now it was only a matter of time.  I couldn’t wait to see her face.
But as the set wore on no one shouted up a request for Dr. Jazz and Phyllis hadn’t even glanced at the kazoo.  This was not looking good.  How could I get her to sing?  I used the old standby.  Cash.  An anonymous written request accompanied by 500 drachmas to the piano player for Phyllis to perform Dr. Jazz guaranteed that kazoo would soon be heading toward her lips.
By now I couldn’t restrain myself and had shared my brilliant plan with several regulars sitting at the bar [“With me too,” says Niko waving from behind].  To be honest, most were horrified and thought it childish…but if the shoe fits… Besides, even the most critical were fascinated at how Phyllis would respond.  After all, she was Italian.  And not a word of warning went out from the crowd.
So, on went the wig, and out came the lyrics for Dr. Jazz, “Hello Central give me Dr. Jazz…” At the point where the lyrics took a break and the piano player took over, Phyllis did as she always did, told the audience that she wanted to be part of the band and picked up her kazoo.
I’m in stitches, almost convulsions.  Here it comes.  The eruption is about to blow, we’re all going to be dead for sure, but what a way to go….  You guessed it, absolutely nothing happened.  Tepotah.  Phyllis played her kazoo as she always did with not even a twitch of discomfort across her angelic face.
“Curses, foiled again!”
When she’d finished, she calmly and deliberately put the wig and kazoo away, picked up the microphone and said to the packed house, “When I’m in Mykonos I stay with Jody and Niko.  Well, one of my roommates, no doubt the nasty blond one, must have thought it would be funny to pepper up my kazoo.”  She cleared her throat.  “Would someone please tell him that, yes, it did burn my lips, but there was no way I was going to give him the satisfaction of a reaction.  At least not now.  Please tell the convulsing gentleman behind the bar that, payback will be hell, and he’d best sleep with one eye open for the rest of his practical joking life!”
Good conquers evil
That took place more sleepless years back than I care to remember and I’ve matured since then [please take notice of Niko in the background rolling his eyes], so I wish to make a (Tabasco free) peace offering to our still dear friend and performing star.  For the first time anywhere Niko and I are revealing our “ultra-secret” recipe for Phyllis’ favorite cocktail, the Montparnasse Piano Bar Chocolate Martini.  Ours is clear—not one of those dark and creamy concoctions you find elsewhere—so it passes as a regular martini, but one taste and you’ll never go back to the others.
Montparnasse Piano Bar Tail #1, the Chocolate Martini:
Start with a chilled martini glass and roll the lip in powdered cocoa or chocolate.
Fill a martini pitcher or mixing glass halfway with ice.
Add 3 ounces of Vodka, along with 1 ounce of White Crème de Cacao (both clear spirits).
Stir well and strain into the rimmed martini glass.
Drop in a chocolate covered almond as a final treat at the end, but no fingers allowed, you must drink your way to the bottom.
Thanks, fellas, see you next month.
Jeff — Saturday
comments (0)
Mykonos CockTales, Part 2
Filed under: Tales of Montparnasse the Piano Bar of Mykonos
Posted by: Nikos @ 4:22 pm


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tales of the Piano Bar, Part 2

By popular demand, here is another cabaret story (and cocktail) from Mykonos’ Montparnasse Piano Bar, the Greek Aegean’s own La Cage au Folles, sans dancers.  This is where the ages, races, genders, ethnicities, national origins, and sexual preferences that make up Mykonos’ legendary 24/7 in season lifestyle gather amid other tourists, locals, yachters, Broadway and West End performers, for one hell of a good time—as they have for thirty years.
Ancient archival photograph
The Piano Bar is the creation of Nikos Hristodulakis and Jody Duncan, and they’re behind the bar every night, amassing more stories than O’Henry.  They shared one with us here about a month ago and, as death threats stayed to a minimum, they’re daring to venture out with a second accompanied, of course, by another of their dynamite cocktail recipes.
One word—so to speak—of caution.  There is a punch line word to this story that I never use in my writing.  Not because I dislike it by any means, but because to some its use is offensive and I respect that.  Still, this is not my story and its use is seminal to another’s tale, therefore I cannot bring myself to serve as censor.  However, in fairness to the sensitivity of others, I feel compelled to alert those who may not chose to go further, WARNING “FELINE” AHEAD.
Montparnasse Piano Bar Tale #2:  “The Sneaky Snake,” as told by a blond Jody leaning over the bar and ignoring the dark-haired Niko (still) making faces behind him.
Mykonos’ Little Venice
Each season very talented, some might say offbeat, entertainers stop by the Piano Bar for a surprise guest appearance or two.  And we love it when they do, especially Niko.  It makes him feel normal.  A few years back, we decided to book a duo of “unique” professional entertainers as headliners for a September gig.  George Sanders, the vocalist of the duo, specializes in comedy and most of his songs revolve around characters he created and intricate costumes to match.  His partner, Shawn Curran, can best be described as George’s “accompanist,” but theirs is not a children’s party act and Shawn is not the traditional sort of accompanist.
Their most famous routine, Sneaky Snake, involves a costume capable of concealing Shawn beneath and behind George, for in the midst of George’s delightful vocal performance, Sneaky Snake makes his unexpected appearance through George’s until then decidedly open but unnoticed fly—manipulated by none other than Shawn the skillful.  Need I say more?  Of course I must.  Shawn’s Sneaky Snake puppetry involves certain creative hand manipulations in George’s nether regions that still have me laughing every time I think of them.
George, Shawn, and Sneaky
George and Shawn quickly became an established hit on Mykonos.  One night they arrived about an hour before scheduled to go on.  Shawn went to spend the time sitting outside, while George sat at the bar exchanging stories with Niko.  Unbeknownst to any of us, in that brief interlude away from George Shawn found true love, in the angelic form of a three-month old cuddle-bunny of a neighborhood kitten (if you can say that for a kitten).  It was a mutual love affair; so much so that by the time for Shawn to prepare George to go on, kitty was draped across his shoulder sound asleep.
Scene of the assignation
Not wanting to disturb his new amore, sleepy-on-the-shoulder stayed on Shawn as he went inside and set up George in his Sneaky Snake costume.  Now it was time for the act to begin but still kitty snoozed.  Shawn did the only thing he could, he went on with the show, carefully keeping kitty hidden from the audience behind George’s backside.  Once again they brought down the house.
A star is born
At the conclusion of their act, George and Shawn dismantle their costume in front of the audience to reveal the “secret” of Sneaky Snake’s masterful manipulations.  This time Shawn’s shoulder unexpectedly fell under a spotlight, catching an irresistible, golden kitten draped across it.  At that precise moment kitty chose to rouse, yawn, stretch, and return to her place on Shawn’s shoulder.
The applause and cheers for George and Shawn quickly turned to love-smitten awwwwwws for the newest member of their troupe.
Timing being one of George’s strong suits, he waited until miss kitty and the crowd had reached a state of shared karmic bliss before quipping, “First time I’ve ever been upstaged by a pussy! And, my God, I actually enjoyed it!”
That’s all folks, but for those still reading, here’s the Sneaky Snake’s favorite Montparnasse Piano Bar cocktail, The Hypnotic Martini:  Mix 1 ½  ounces vodka, 1 ounce Hpnotiq liqueur, and 1 ounce lemon sour mix or sweetened lemon juice together in an ice filled cocktail shaker.   Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a twist of lemon.
And by the way, here’s the link to George’s and Shawn’s Sneaky Snake Films website…if you dare…
Thanks, guys—and I’ll forward the emails to you.
Jeff — Saturday
comments (0)