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Bars in Jerusalem (Israel)
Member Name: gillyman
Bars in Jerusalem (Israel)
Date: 13/07/01, updated on 10/03/02 (559 review reads)
Advantages: Young and trendy types, Outside drinking for 6 months of the year, Small city
Disadvantages: Obnoxious American Gap year students, Lack of choice of beers
As with anything it is important to know where I am coming from. I appreciate a bar with a bit of atmosphere. Music shouldn't be too loud, service should be decent and there should be a good choice of drinks.
Israel does not have a big drinking culture -it is becoming more popular however and the result is that bars in Israel have a new, young and generally trendy crowd - no old Grandpas sitting in the corner with a pint of mild talking about the good old days!
Big advantage - closing time tends to be whenever you've finished your last pint - I have only once been slung out of a pub because they were closing up and that was at four in the morning (I somehow made it to work the next day!) This also means that the main activity is later on in the evening - from 11 o clock on. Big nights tend to be Thursday and Friday as the weekend is Friday and Saturday - Sunday is a work day - weird huh?
Due to the nature of the city, there are a lot of American (and other) students doing gap year programs. In my experience, American kids don't know how to drink. I think that the reason for this is that in order to drink in the States they have to be 21 and IDs are checked - sudddenly they find themselves in a place where this is not the case and therefore they get drunk quickly and are incredibly loud and annoying (although they don't have to be drunk for the latter to occur!)
Thus the sort of pub I look for is one where the tourists haven't got to!
Fairly expensive - at least 15 shekels for a pint (about two pounds fifty) - bottled beers are more expensive and imported spirits are seriously heavily taxed which is reflected in the price.
Downtown Jerusalem is very small and most o
f the places I'll refer to are very close together - maps of the city are easily available in all hotels and local phone books.
There are a few new bars around - all in the vicinity of the Old City and within very easy reach of the New Hilton and King David hotels - which are amongst Jerusalem's best.
Mamila has a wonderful view to the illuminated Old City walls. It has a twenties and thirties crowd, vey trendy but chilled out. Plenty of space particularly the garden which will be superb drinking space come the summer.
Shot bar is another new one with a great bar downstairs and a cool chill out space with comfy sofas upstairs - a great place for a private party if you can get it and again with a view of the Ancient city walls.
Barood - In the Feingold courtyard just off 31 Jaffa road. This one is a little difficult to find and is my favourite - worth the effort. Not open on Sundays. They serve a small variety of beers on tap - Carlsberg, Tuborg, Guiness and Goldstar and also a wide variety of bottled beers - I like the Belgian ones - Leffe and Hoegarden both feature along with a wide variety of others from around the globe. They have glasses with all the various beer logos which I always think is a nice touch. They also have a good range of spirits and in particular a range of home flavoured vodkas - they like their alcohol! The food menu always looks delicious and does not resemble kosher food in any shape or form! I recommend their olives to go with a cool beer. They also have live music several times a week. Seating is a little cramped indoors but has a homely feel and there is also outdoor seating which works well for at least six months of the year. Thumbs up!
Acha - 7 Nachalat Shiva. Since they moved to larger premises this has been a big favourite. With a huge choice of spirits and a decent choice of beer (the only place that I've discovered for Murphys in Jerusalem - but I'm not bitter!) and what l
ooks to be a very tasty menu, this place attracts plenty of trendies. Seating is either on couches around low tables or on comfy chairs aroudn solid wood tables (or at the bar). Service is by attractive waitresses who are friendly and attentive. Low lighting and jazzy techno music are not intrusive and give the place a lovely atmosphere. Only drawbacks are that it's all inside - not so great for balmy summer evenings and that they only serve soft drinks if you are ordering food - they might be flexible if you come in a group and ask nicely!
Opposite Acha is Shanti - housed in an old Jerusalem stone building this is a trendy place with a good selection of food and alcohol and young friendly staff. A nice friendly atmosphere with outdoor seating in the summer.
Shonka - very trendy bar on Hasoreg Street. Upstairs is for the beautiful people to see and be seen - the food is gourmet and highly rated. This is the only place in Jerusalem that I've encountered where you can get Belgian beers on tap as opposed to in a bottle. Downstairs is for dancing into the small hours. Not really my scene as I am an awful dancer but can be good fun if you like that sort of thing!
Link (5 Hama'alot St) is great for the summer with a large beer garden and a similar range of beers to the others mentioned above - a small range on tap and then lots of bottled stuff with a decent range of wines and spirits and what appears to be a good food menu. A lovely atmosphere on summer nights it also does the business in the winter as the inside is pleasant - lots of wood and comfy seats. Highly recommended.
The Russian compound - so called because it is built on land leased from the Russian Orthodox church is chocca with pubs. Most of them are a bit too noisy for my liking so I'm only going to mention two!
1. Cannabis - Monbaz St. Has a weekly karaoke on Monday nights and a huge balcony for the summer - not great in the winter as its dark a
nd plays loud music preventing conversation - usual range of beers - sometimes has a 30 shekel (5 pound) cover charge.
Mike's Place - Heleni Hamalka - Chock full of young Americans but has excellent live music most nights of the week from about 10 - 10:30 - friendly Anglo bar staff, Kilkenny and Guiness on tap - good place to go for the music!
Out of the Russian Compound - Zanzibar on Shamai St - just down from MacDonalds. Trendy looking place with a huge range of spirits - most of which are damned expensive. Last few times I have been in its been very quiet - don't know why as it has a very nice atmosphere - music that you know the words to and fairly good service.
Further afield - Rosa - you have to make an effort to find this one. If you have been out for a meal in one of the grill restaraunts on Agrippas street (I'll write an op on that too!) then this is close by. Situated on Rechov Hadekel you may have to ask passers by where it is as it may not be obvious (no sign for example!) Inside it appears to be an illegal shebeen - it is dark, attracts students, plays electronic music as background. It does have an excellent range of alcohol, people are friendly and if you want to show that you know Jerusalem then its sure to impress!
Laila (Haneviim St) is a newish but very funky place which attracts a young crowd. There is a 60s night on Monday and gay night on Thursday. Its a decent sized place split up into large rooms with comfy seating, North African styling and a good range of alcohol. Another recommended one.
A little further from the city centre, Rchov Azza has a couple of great trendy places which tend to fill up with young types. Moment has recently moved to newer, larger premises. Filter, a little further down allows you to sit out on the pavement and see and be seen.
I'll leave it at that for now. There are plenty of other places around - mainly downtown but with the odd place dotted aro
und the suburbs. It really is a question of finding a place that suits you - if you can't from the list then the other pubs of the Russian compound are one next door to the other - just take a walk along Jaffa Street and you'll find more places to give a try!
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