Noc, the well-stocked Jerusalem bar located at 31 Jaffa Road, is a good place for people looking to drink. In fact, it's a good place for people looking only to drink. In a city where "bars" often devote as much energy to their salads as their scotch, Noc owner and manager Yehuda Folberg prides himself on his bar's unadulterated emphasis on alcohol.
Pronounced "noach" - that's "night" in Serbian - the bar last month celebrated both its one-year anniversary and the acquisition of its one-hundredth type of whiskey - a development Folberg says "makes us a whiskey bar according to the international definition."
Indeed, a wall of whiskey sits behind Noc's newly expanded bar, with brands ranging from Glenfiddich and Jim Beam to less common names like Bowmore and Dalmore. Prices start at NIS 26 a shot and max out at NIS 280, though the large majority of whiskeys fall on the lower end of the spectrum. Lightweights can buy half-shots, which are also encouraged for those looking to sample multiple whiskeys for a reasonable price. A standard selection of rum, tequila, wine and cocktails is also available, along with beer sold on draught and by the bottle.
Two items pub crawlers won't find: food or coffee. Folberg, who says he's tried all but one of Noc's whiskeys, is unapologetic about the bar's singular focus on liquor. Heavy drinking is by no means expected or necessary, but Folberg wants to distinguish his bar from more standard Jerusalem fare.
The Noc owner/manager was introduced to whiskey as a child by his grandmother, who, as an underweight American teenager, was ordered by a doctor to drink a daily pint of beer to bulk up - a practice she altered later in life by switching to a daily shot of Creme Royal. Her affinity for whiskey was passed down to her grandson, who speaks with impressive knowledge about virtually every aspect of whiskey production, distribution and consumption.
He's created an eclectic setting for whiskey appreciation in Noc, which sits among a series of bars and restaurants in the Finegold Courtyard. DJs perform every Thursday and Friday and take their inspiration from a wide assortment of musical styles. Bartenders and Folberg himself provide the music during the rest of the week - Noc closes only three days a year - and the place hums with an atmospheric mix of rock, electronica, gypsy and even classical music.
While he's committed to his bar's distinctive mood and menu, Folberg isn't doctrinaire about how a night at Noc should go. It's "okay" if customers bring in food from the Japanese restaurant next door, and soda and water are available for non-drinkers. Happy hour lasts between 8 and 10 nightly, with deals on non-whiskey drinks and up to 30% off on certain whiskeys.
While most patrons are in their twenties - 23 is the minimum age of entry - the place is comfortable for older whiskey enthusiasts as well. Wood tables and chairs by the bar downstairs complement plush couches on Noc's upper level, which leaves some welcome space for stretching out a bit. Noc is generally not a place for intimate conversation, however, and late night patrons can expect that, by the time they get leave, even their socks will smell of cigarette smoke.
But for bustle and buzz and a whole lot of whiskey, Noc is a consistently distinctive choice - 7 days a week, 362 days a year.