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Tel Aviv’s top cocktail bars like to take pride in their international flair and global appeal. Yet many of the qualities that underlie their cutting edge concepts, originality, hospitality, and a forward-thinking approach, are in fact typically Israeli. Here, we bring you some of the exceptional Tel Aviv cocktail bars for creative drinks that combine unexpected food, herbal and alcoholic elements for an unparalleled sensory experience.
For those in search for an authentic speakeasy experience straight out of 1920s Prohibition era America, look no further than Moonshine. The founder and bartender, Mor Cicurel, lovingly scours the Jaffa Flea Market for new treasures to add to the intimate bar’s décor, including old record players, gas lamps, melting wax candlesticks, and antique goblets. Moonshine’s impeccable attention to detail shines equally in its design and its cocktails. The bar’s moonshine comes in delicious specialty flavors based on a variety of liquors, which are served to guests in mason jars with metal straws.
In addition to its signature cocktails, Moonshine also serves high-quality classic American food rotated on a seasonable basis, with highlights including macaroni and cheese in the winter, and cheesy baked potato in the summer. This is a true neighborhood bar, with a relaxed vibe, friendly service, and even live jazz music every Wednesday night. On Sunday evenings, enjoy unlimited moonshine for 99 shekels, and every day, look for the ‘garage sale’ special for group deals on moonshine, beer, and food.
Moonshine, Lilienblum St. 43, Tel Aviv, Israel, +972 03-566-0481
Passerella is dressed to impress in a sleek, ultra modern large space. As Tel Aviv’s first molecular cocktail bar, Passerella is all about creating trippy-colored cocktails, using dry ice to produce thick fogs, and incorporating food into innovative cocktail elements (think liquor-based ‘caviar’ atop a cocktail).
With recipes crafted by their mixologist featuring names such as the Gold Digger (vodka Belvedere, Patron citronge, litchi liqueur, maple and lime) and the Sugar Daddy (Bailey’s, Patron café, cream, milk foam and toasted marshmallow), Passerella doesn’t miss an opportunity to display its peacock feathers. Yet the performative aspect only enhances the enjoyment of the brews; these cocktails taste as good as they look. Passerella also boasts an upscale food menu, with scrumptious options such as fried calamari, artichoke carpaccio with parmesan, and creamy polenta with eggs, as well as solid draft beer options for less experimental types who still want to join in the fun.
Passerella, Nahalat Binyamin St. 52, Tel Aviv, Israel, +972 03-613-1302
Stepping into larger-than-life Concierge is like entering into a fantasy world that is part pirate ship, part Moulin Rouge, and part Moroccan harem. Some cocktail bars prefer to have a consistent theme; but not Concierge, whose unabashed embrace of eclecticism is immediately visible upon entering the vast interior. The three brothers who own this bar are also the owners of a popular sister restaurant and bar with a complementary name and equal emphasis on hospitality, Room Service.
Concierge features two bars, one in the traditional rectangular format, and the other in a round carousel-like seating arrangement that encourages socializing with other guests. At night, a DJ plays international music, including Asian, Irish, and Greek styles, which is augmented by acoustic foam ceiling tiles. Combined with the beautiful custom-made furniture, exotic décor, and attention to detail, you will feel transported to a hedonistic jungle of sight, sound, and taste. The bartenders clearly take pleasure in making your night memorable, and delight in brewing guests insane house concoctions such as their bestselling Brain Freezeserved in a giant skull, as well as colorful drinks decked out in bows, feathers, and beyond.
Concierge, Dizengoff St. 95, Tel Aviv, Israel, +972 03-522-3340
Have you ever seen an Israeli bar waiter don a suit? How about Israeli men sipping beer from a laboratory flask? Now you can at Spicehaus (alternatively called the East Jaffa Perfume Company), a boutique cocktail bar designed to resemble an old-fashioned pharmacy and perfumery. The name of the bar is taken from the Silk Road, the ancient trade route dotted with exchange posts, known as spice houses. From the moment you step into partners Guy Silbiger and Yotam Shilo’s beloved project, the aroma of delicate spices wafts into your nostrils.
The bartender, a smiling professional wearing a lab coat, expertly blends together house brews – and then pours them into a test tube or flask to serve to his guests. A trip to the bathroom is worthwhile, where loudspeakers play a famous reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, The Raven, and mathematical equations cover the walls. The cocktail menu has something for everyone, including the Okinawa Vasper, a powerful drink designed for men. Drinks come in small, large, and extra-extra large quantities. There is some delicious food here as well, including the Crack Toast made of three kinds of cheeses and drizzled with maple syrup. Maybe best of all, Spicehaus offers a Friday brunch from noon till evening that is not to be missed.
Spicehaus, Dizengoff St. 117, Tel Aviv, Israel, +972 054-228-6200
223 is the oldest true cocktail bar in Israel. Ariel Leizgold, the founder of 223, won the Finlandia Vodka Cup Crowns Championship with his Passion Fruit 2006 (vodka, ginger, apricot brandy, and passion fruit), as well as a host of other awards. The emphasis at 223 is on serving strong cocktails, which are mostly twists on classic drinks. The talented mixologists are dedicated to creating irresistibly ornate cocktails based on high quality ingredients, real fruits, and natural flavors. The signature dish is a rectangular, thin-crust pizza with bacon, but any of their expertly crafted comfort foods will satisfy a late night craving.
The energetic buzz in the small setting is conducive to a group of friends catching up, and the décor, befitting that of the matriarch of Tel Aviv cocktail bars, is sophisticated and elegant. The intimate, attic-like upstairs section of the bar features comfortable lounge seating, making it the ideal setting for a celebration with friends. Happy hour 1+1 deals are available on weekdays, giving you reason enough to celebrate.
223, Dizengoff St. 223, Tel Aviv, Israel, +972 03-544-6537