Tel Aviv’s exuberant cocktail scene is on full display with this collection of vibrant and quirky bars.
Maple syrup, eggs whites and Chartreuse are some of the more popular ingredients finding their way into the glasses of well-heeled drinkers. You can find well over a hundred custom cocktails at over a dozen cocktail specialty bars all over the city. Here are my suggestions for a fabulous “cocktail crawl” night out:
רגע אינטימי מתוך סדנת קוקטיילים שהתקיימה השבוע בדאבל #אוהביאלכוהול
The most northern cocktail bar on what I like to call the Dizengoff/HaYarkon “Cocktail Trail” offers a great introduction of what you might expect from Tel Aviv’s cocktail culture: fanciful presentations of traditional and unique cocktails with some complexity, fresh flavors and a twist. Drinks are all served in creative glassware or vessels and available in larger sizes too for 2, 4 or even 8 friends. This is for Matilda-spiced bourbon, lime and pineapple juice, cherry liqueur served with a garnish of dried pineapple in a copper pineapple coffer that everyone wants to take home. Bourbon, with its sweet and smoky notes is a popular component in many cocktails around town and this creation might convince you why.
This is more of a place to eat and have a good cocktail to accompany it than the other way around. It’s sister bar is the Concierge cocktail lounge so it the cocktails are served in fun vessels like a wicker bike or ceramic frog. They serve breakfast and its full menu all day so you can go out all night to many of these other bars and get “Room Service” anytime you wake up. Try the house’s premade frozen daiquiri for a fruity but tart treat with some kick you can even take to go on your way to the beach.
This dynamic duo of cocktail bars share a common wall and management team of Elad Baruch, David Hirshfeld and Lee Ben Ari. Catering to the 24 and over crowd, Johns is a more sophisticated Tel Aviv’s cocktail stop though it opens early (at 6pm), it’s happy hour is unique in that instead of 1+1 drinks they offer buy one drink get one appetizer free.
Johns stays open to open 2am or 3-4am on some nights but Jaspers which opens at 9PM keeps pouring to 6am or even later ( I hard noon one day) so has become a popular spot for industry insiders who want someplace to unwind after their bars or eateries close. At Johns try the Green designed by their charming British bar veteran Nicola Simpson. It features gin, Chartreuse, sesame syrup, wasabi and cucumber for a cool and refreshing respite with a little kick of heat. At Jaspers you can indulge in a Nacho Libre-tequila, Chartreuse, triple sec, agave syrup and chili oil. Many cocktails seem are featuring dark liquors like Tequila, Bourbon or Spiced Rum maybe because they add a bit more complexity than white liquors like some gins, vodkas or light rum which rely a bit more on their mixers to make a cocktail shine. A great drink to accompany Japser’s beef-filled steamed buns.
There’s as many seats seemingly outside as there are inside. Happy Hour is buy 1 get 1 free 6-9PM Sunday thru Thursday and with a full food menu and drinks that come in three sizes: small for 1-2 people at 46 NIS, medium enough for 4 at 174 NIS and large enough for 8 people at 268 NIS, it’s one of the easiest and affordable places to make for an all-night date or party and they have a full menu including traditional fish and chips. The Lazy Armchair Delight offers tobacco infused bourbon, Averna herbal liqueur, lemon and maple syrup for a drink a cigar smoker might cherish or remind a nonsmoker of their favorite barrel-aged liquor.
With well over 100 seats the most inviting bar on the list for those without reservations or with a large group. A casual, eclectic décor lends itself to the neighborhood bar atmosphere that is a departure from the stuffier original Tel Aviv cocktail scene. The full and more than competent kitchen at the Concierge is open until 1 or 2am. They a have a rare seven nights/week happy hour from 6 to 830pm (1+1 drinks). Malibu Blue is fluorescent blue served in a tall daiquiri glass, their twist on a pina colada featuring gin, coconut rum, coconut cream, blue curacao, simple syrup and lemon juice.
Owner and sommelier Nick Sitbon has a concept bar here ahead of the curve. With a focus on elegant craft cocktails they also feature the best thought out and diverse list of Israeli craft wines and micro-brews. A Scandinavian theme permeates both the interior and even the drinks which offer with lots of character and expression served often topped with flavorful foams and accented by smoked infusions for flavor. Hand cut large chunks of ice or whole glass ice balls insure your ice stays chilled yet melts so slow that your drink don’t become watered down. Happy Hour is 6-8PM offering 35 NIS cocktails and Saturday nights feature a tasting menu. Closed on Sundays. The Black Pearl—a Rye whiskey, elderflower, honey, ginger syrup, lemon, charcoal with grapefruit and elderflower foam. Served in a highball glass a pitch black drink might be intimidating for some, but once you go Black you may not to go back.
The Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar
Hidden in the Imperial Hotel, the Imperial Craft and Cocktail bar, voted one of the world’s best bars, is the creation of veteran bartenders who have come together to create a temple to the lost art of the cocktail.
One of the smallest bars, or at least it can feel that way because its seats, stools at the bar and booths are often the most in demand. With a rotating seasonal cocktail menu that separates choices by what sensation you like. They have a much larger new Mexican/Carribean lounge “La Otra” next door.