How to Drink in Tel Aviv: An Expert Guide

The Norman Hotel Bar.
The Norman Hotel Bar.
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Tel Aviv is a dazzling jewel in the Mediterranean, and one that’s easy to fall in love with in your first hours of visiting the seaside oasis. It’s a party city, but not in the shallow Miami or Las Vegas way you’re thinking. Tel Aviv has more authentic hospitality behind it, more charm, better food.

In order to better understand that hospitality, you must go out and see Tel Aviv at night. Here’s how.

How to Prepare:

Tel Aviv is a late-night city. Don’t be surprised if someone tells you that they’re meeting up at 3 am to pre-game for a Saturday night out. “The most important thing to do before getting to Tel Aviv is to get some sleep, cause once you’re here, it’s done. No sleep for you,” says Yuval Soffer, brand ambassador of Milk & Honey. “Tel Aviv is a 24/7 city and there is always something going on.”

While things roll late into the night, you still need to start early if you’re trying to go to a particular place. “Start early; the best time [to go out] is late afternoon or early evening, that way you can enjoy the atmosphere before the places get packed,” says Elad Shoham, head mixologist and sommelier for Hotel Montefiore, Herzl 16, and Coffeebar. “A classic arrangement would be to have a reservation for dinner and starting at the bar for drinks before that.”

Where to Go:

Don’t feel pressure when you’re figuring out your plans for the night. Even if you wing it, the odds are in your favor. “Tel Aviv is a great city to eat in drink in, no matter where you land you’ll find great food and delicious drinks,” says Noy Davidai, bar manager of Library Bar at The Norman Hotel. “So if there’s anything you should know about going out in Tel Aviv is that you just have to go out. Go to a different neighborhood every night to feel the different vibes of the city.”

You’ll find something for everyone in Tel Aviv. “There’s a plethora of bars, clubs and restaurants. And every one is different. Kinda like snowflakes,” says Soffer. “Different styles, different concepts, different vibes. From dive-y to fancy, from dungeons to rooftops, we have it all. Each one appeals to a certain kind of crowd.” Do your due diligence and explore different neighborhoods.

What to Drink:

Tel Aviv has become a cocktail powerhouse. “Lately cocktail bars have been popping up like mushrooms after the rain so everybody’s drinking cocktails,” says Davidai. You’ll find incredible cocktails all over town, giving you more motivation to diversify your night plans. Make sure you try Arak while you’re in Israel. “Arak (an anis-flavored spirit) is usually associated with our little patch of land on the Mediterranean coast,” says Davidai.

Embrace Shot Culture:

If you watch a bartender working on any given night, you’ll probably see him or her take down ten, fifteen little shots with various guests. Don’t worry, they’re not full-on, traditional shots. They’re “chasers,” a nickname for a half shot. “Here chasers are mini shots that people drink throughout the night to accompany their, well—drinking.

You can think of it as micro-dosing,” says Soffer. “Don’t be surprised when bartenders buy you a round of chasers on the house. It’s part of the TLV hospitality culture.”

Chasers are served all the time, everywhere. “The chances of being offered a chaser are equal whether you are sitting by yourself in a dive bar or in a business meeting at a haute cuisine restaurant,” says Davidai. “It can be ordered by the patrons to fuel up on some more alcohol or by the bartender as a show of appreciation for your businesses.”