Hagoren: A Jerusalem bar where the grownups can drink - review

All the wine, alcohols, and spirits at Hagoren are Israeli, and there is a nice selection of wines by the glass. The music playlist is also all-Israeli.

 Hagoren (photo credit: EDEN CAPLAN)
(photo credit: EDEN CAPLAN)

I used to rent an office in the center of town, and I remember that one night around 15 years ago, my husband met me at my office and we felt like going out for a drink. We didn’t want to eat – we just wanted a nice place that wouldn’t be too noisy and had good cocktails. We couldn’t come up with any good ideas.

Too bad that Hagoren wasn’t around then as it fits the bill perfectly. Before I go any further, full disclosure. The manager at the Goren, Eden Caplan, is the son of close friends and I’ve known him since he was young. He is very enthusiastic about Hagoren and has been inviting me for months. I recently had a birthday and invited my friends to join me there for a drink on a Wednesday night. The weather was lovely and we sat outside enjoying a cool breeze.

Now these are not just any friends. These are my Ladies Who Drink and they know far more than I do about cocktails. I arrived first with one friend we had a glass of red wine. All the wine, alcohols, and spirits at Hagoren are Israeli, and there is a nice selection of wines by the glass. The music playlist is also all-Israeli.

Eden (who recently completed the same WSET wine course that I did last year) asked me about my preferences and then brought me two wines to taste – the Vitkin Masa Yisraeli and the Shiloh Privilege. I enjoyed both, but felt the Shiloh had a little more complexity and was happy to enjoy a glass.

By then my friends arrived, and they ordered cocktails.

 Hagoren (credit: EDEN CAPLAN)
Hagoren (credit: EDEN CAPLAN)

Enjoying the fine cocktails at Jerusalem's Hagoren bar

“I had the ‘Kalanit’ (NIS 52), similar to a French 75 – a mix of liqueur and dry sparkling wine,” Timna Seligman says. 

“The selection of unique Israeli-made liqueurs was interesting. I had the ginger and lemon flavor. The ginger flavor was slightly overpowering at first, leaving a bit of a bitter aftertaste, but after the second sip, the flavors seemed to settle and it became more enjoyable. Nonetheless, next time I’ll try something else, because there is much on offer there.”

Another friend, Maayan Hoffman, ordered the same cocktail but chose the coconut and pumpkin flavor. She felt it had too much coconut for her taste and Eden was happy to make up another drink for her. Now of course I couldn’t let the cocktail feel unloved, so I drank it. I like coconut and enjoyed the drink, but the taste was very pronounced.

For my taste, the best cocktail was the one ordered by Laura Cornfield called the New York Sour which Eden says is “a whisky sour with egg white and a red wine float.” It was very pretty and went down easily.

Hagoren, which belongs to the owners of Mike’s Place (right across the street) offers a limited food selection of schnitzels, burgers, and fries that are made at Mike’s and ferried across to Hagoren. But we preferred to drink our calories, so we did not order food except for a small appetizer platter of olives, ful beans, and grape leaves. It was a perfect little snack to go with our drinks. There was also a little bowl of complementary biscotti but I restrained myself – to be quite honest, it was gone before I got to it.

At some point, Eden gave us complimentary shots of Golani maple whisky, which made us all happy. There was live music the night we came but it wasn’t too loud, and we enjoyed the company, the Jerusalem night air, the atmosphere, and the good drinks.

HagorenRivlin Street 1JerusalemTel: 054-536-5103Open: Sun.-Thu., 6 pm-last customer; Sat., after Shabbat until last customerKashrut: TzoharAccessibility: The ground floor of the bar and the outside area are accessible. The upstairs bathroom is not, but there is an accessible public bathroom close by.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.