Although located on the corner of Rivlin, one of Jerusalem nightlife's busiest streets, the Bell Wood's concealed entrance makes the popular watering hole easy to miss. This marks the bar in sharp contrast to its neighboring neon-lit pubs and clubs, whose patrons - often Anglo teens - can be found somewhat worse for wear spilling onto the streets in the small hours.
The request for I.D. at the door to insure that would-be drinkers are 23-plus enhances the bar's upscale image, reinforced inside by the sight of well-dressed students and young professionals. Owner Tsachi Ben-Amram says that these make up the bar's "typical clientele," unwinding from the stresses of research papers and company projects over beers or wine.
"Twenty-three is the age that people begin to understand and appreciate alcohol," Ben-Amram explains, his voice raised in an attempt to drown out the Thursday night din. "Since opening two years ago we've consistently attracted big crowds," he says. "On any night of the week from about 11 p.m. the place is packed to the rafters."
Indeed there is a distinct appeal to the Bell Wood, perhaps the result of its capacity to maintain an upbeat, party-like atmosphere (thanks to the sound system featuring everything from jazz and blues to contemporary pop), while at the same time resembling an intimate British pub, on which its design, complete with wooden tables, chairs and a bar, is based. It even boasts a traditional steel bell for which the bar is named, although rather than signifying last orders, it is sounded here by boisterous patrons at indiscriminate intervals.
Those looking for a quiet drink can also enjoy the Bell Wood so long as they offer their custom before 10 p.m.
The drink menu is also true to the British theme. Patrons can choose between 110 whiskies and 14 beers (many of them fresh courtesy of an impressive selection of beer taps), as well as various types of wines or cocktails. Diners who do not observe kashrut can accompany their beverages with a variety of meat dishes.
Bell Wood is located at 5 Rivlin St. and is open every night from 7 p.m. until the last customer.