(photo credit: LAEL UTNIK)
Cocktails are making a comeback. The mixed drinks so beloved of the bright young things of the 20s are now the in thing, so much so that the Tel-Aviv Hilton is offering a cocktail menu in its Lobby Bar and Terrace, with 11 special drinks created by the hotel mixologist Shahar Kreisler. By the way, if you think the term “mixologist” is a ghastly neologism you would be wrong – it goes back to the 19th century.
Each drink is named for a place in Israel, and is connected in some way with its namesake by the choice of ingredients. For instance, the Kinneret (NIS 75) contains thyme, grapefruit and sparkling wine and a cherry liqueur, since cherries grow in the area.
The Haifa (NIS 70) is based on gin, which is produced in the city’s bay area, together with spices of hyssop and juniper which also grow in the vicinity.
The Mount Hermon (NIS 39) is evocative of the drinks available in European ski resorts, with eggnog, cherry liqueur and tequila, and warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
For an Israeli take on the classic Negroni, they came up with the Safed (NIS 62) with gin, vermouth and Campari because Safed is one of Israel’s oldest cities. The Kerem HaTeimanim (NIS 62) contains the Yemenite spice Hawaij as well as arak, mango juice and anise. (Note to bartender: it should be shaken, not stirred.)
The Mahane Yehuda (NIS70) captures the tastes and smells of the famous Jerusalem shuk with notes of cardamom and cinnamon added to bourbon, while the Judean Hills (NIS 75) is a mix of whiskey, vermouth and Becherovka herbal liquer, reflecting diversity.
The Beersheba (NIS 62) is orange, the color of the desert, and is really a classic screwdriver with vodka and orange juice. The Dead Sea (NIS 62) contains salt water and plenty of tequila with strawberry paste and sounds like a tequila sunrise, Jewish style. The Eilat (NIS 66) is a refreshing lemon-based drink for when it’s really hot.
Finally, the Hilton Beach (NIS 62) is a best-seller, a Caribbean-style cocktail reflecting the vibes and colors of the Hilton Beach, made from rum, coconut and other exotic ingredients. “I tried to take places I like and show Israel through its alcohol,” says Shahar Kreisler, who gets full marks for creativity and ingenuity. “It’s a very happy and unconventional way of viewing the country.”
Hilton Tel Aviv
Hayarkon St. 205.
Cocktail menu available from 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. except on Saturdays and festivals. No reservation required.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
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