City Guide - Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

05 May, 2015

Bellboy

Berdyczewski Street 14, Tel Aviv

This central-yet-residential Tel Aviv speakeasy (above left) has something of the Nightjar about it. No surprises there – one of the city’s cocktail pioneers, Ariel Leizgold, enlisted Marian Bek to consult on its opening a little over a year ago.

 The themes of American jazz, Prohibition and the roaring ’20s are all evident in one shape or form – lots of wood, curtains where there might be walls and a square bar cut into one side. 

Sit here and watch the classical action nose to nose, or plant your cheeks on the shabby but comfortable lounge chairs that populate the floor. From here you can survey the scene – scores of young trendy Israelis and nocturnal tourists sampling one of the city’s new forays into cocktail culture. 

You’ll also be in prime position to call over the pram. This mini Silver Cross-type wagon makes its way from table to table, attracting the ums, ahhs and even horror of the crowd. Inside there is no baby but a menacing arsenal of shots – classy ones mind, not mixtos and Jägers. 

This bar delivers signatures and twists on classics to an international standard. The garnishes are scaled back Bek, but still bear his artistic stamp. 

Hide and Seek

Brenner Street 2, Tel Aviv

It says something about the appetite for cocktail bars in Tel Aviv that this place had queues out the door before it had a fully stocked bar or menus. No beer, no wine – no matter. Customers were perfectly happy slaking their thirst with good old classics – and this is a country which a year or two ago had practically zero cocktail culture.

Now, six months of business in, 70% of the take is made from cocktails in this bar that stretches from in to outdoors. In a city where winter evenings can be 20°C alfresco drinking is something that many cocktail bars can’t offer. Owned and run by Oron Lerner, one of the bar’s staff is the Israeli Beefeater champion and some cocktails draw on international flavours. Try the Jameson Black Barrel, apple jack, lemon and egg white drink. 

Spicehaus

Dizengoff 117, Tel Aviv 

Half a century ago, this was a coffee shop and bohemian refuge for the free thinkers of early Israeli society. Situated on the main drag of Tel Aviv, the latter end of the century saw the poets and philosophers make way and eventually the place fell off the intellectual map. Peering through the black framed windows today is an altogether different proposition. Six months ago Spicehaus was born.

Here there’s a mix of styles. Once you pass the skeleton that guards the door, the theme is a mix of spice shop and apothecary, with all manner of bottles set against what – to the British eye – is a Victorian backdrop of black and white tiles and a panelled ceiling. Shared cocktails are a thing here but solo imbibing is just as theatrical. Drinks are served in pharmaceutical bottles housed in over-sized teacups before the contents are decanted into vintage glasses.

Even though the themes are present in other bars around the world, this place stands apart from its neighbours. Among the many, high-volume venues of the strip, it is refreshing to see such a bar, even if it is not yet every Israeli’s cup of tea.  





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