Red and White: A hotel bar without the hotel

As the warmer season rapidly approaches, the Red and White wine bar is ready to offer guests who are slowly emerging from their winter slumber a unique and exclusive experience.

Red and White brings the ‘experience of boutique Israeli kosher wines’ to thirsty Jerusalem patrons (photo credit: PR)
Red and White brings the ‘experience of boutique Israeli kosher wines’ to thirsty Jerusalem patrons
(photo credit: PR)
Israel has been making some pretty good wines lately, and over the past few years, Jerusalem has been opening nice wine bars scattered around town showcasing these fermented grape libations to locals and tourists alike.
The newest kid in town, Red and White, is using its strategic downtown location to lure in customers to have a sip of the good life.
Opened shortly after Succot, this wine bar is located on the corner of Yanai Street and Shlomo Hamelech, which, as was pointed out by owner Mark Arnold Jam, was right on the border with Jordan before June 1967. Today, it is just meters away from such luxury hotels as the Mamilla, the King David, the David Citadel and the Waldorf Astoria. He hopes that the location and the selection of exclusively Israeli wines, including a decent amount of boutique wineries throughout the country, will fare well with visitors coming to the City of Gold.
Jam is kind of a one-man show at the wine bar, playing the role of owner, wine sommelier, cheesemonger, coffee roaster, chef and DJ.
Before entering, guests are greeted with two almost identical lit signs outside of the establishment that both read: “Red & White – A wine-tasting experience. Boutique Israeli kosher wines.” The place is cozy with a few seats at the bar, two small tables inside and about five tables that can be set up outside. Inside, the lighting is subtle and the furniture is of a dark wood variety. Eclectic photographs, wine cases and fresh-cut flowers throughout the space help foster what Jam calls a “sophisticated casual atmosphere.”
Behind the bar, guests can choose from a selection of about a dozen single malt Scotch whiskies, bourbons and gins, as well as coffee-based beverages made from coffee beans he roasts himself.
The music seems to vary with the owner’s mood. The Monday night we went, it was a mix of jazzy blues and Cuban jazz. Things didn’t start to pick up until around 9:30. From then until about midnight, seats at the tables and at the bar were occupied by a mostly young professional local clientele who all took advantage of the bar’s selection of wines. I was told that Thursday nights are their busiest nights, normally serving guests until 1 a.m.
The establishment offers customers a broad selection of more than 40 different kinds of Israeli kosher wines. Many hail from boutique wineries including Har Odem, Gvaot, Bazelet HaGolan, Shiloh and Montefiore. Not only are they available by the glass, but customers can purchase bottles from the bar’s collection for takeaway as well.
Speaking of wine selection, another nifty component to the Red and White wine bar is its wine dispenser. Filled with eight different wines, guests can grab a glass from the bar and either sample a taste (for NIS 4) or get poured a half or full glass of whichever wine strikes their fancy. With just a push of a button, guests can serve themselves one or all of these types of wine throughout the duration of their visit. The night I was there, this contraption was offering a variety of Cabernets from wineries all over Israel, including the Beit El Winery, Bazelet HaGolan, Har Odem, Shiloh, Flam and Gvaot. Prices per glass for these wines range from NIS 34 to NIS 60.
In addition to Israeli wines, the place offers guests simple finger foods like small bowls of olives, raisins and roasted peanuts; each will set you back NIS 12. But what really pairs best with Israeli wine, is, of course, Israeli cheese. Red and White has an array of mostly goat cheeses from Naomi’s Dairy in the Golan Heights and a few from Italy as well.
According to the menu, the NIS 72 cheese plate comes with a selection of Boursin, Camembert, Brie and Gouda, and is accompanied by fresh country bread. Extra bread is NIS 15, and adding fruit will set diners back another NIS 8.
When my cheese plate arrived to pair with my glass of 2008 Bazelet Merlot, my small plate contained a selection of six types of goat cheeses, including Gouda with a wineskin rind, Pecorino from Italy, another Gouda with chili, Boursin with black pepper and a Sapir blue cheese.
For those not satiated with refrigerated cultured milk, the wine bar’s kitchen offers a small selection of dairy and fish dishes that are either on or off the menu. The Supreme de Fromage, a warm pastry filled with Boursin and Camembert cheese, homemade tapenade, Dijon mustard, basil and red pepper and served with a half avocado on the side was a decadent yet light and flavorful mouthful of food.
We were also treated to sample three types of fish dishes that did not appear on the menu. The first was sliced salmon sashimi alongside a tomato and basil salad that was served with soy sauce for dipping. Next came a piece of raw tuna with a ginger, soy garlic Dijon sauce on top served on a bed of brown rice. This was followed by red snapper and sea bass stew cooked in a tomato garlic basil sauce.
To end the experience, the Red and White bar offers sweet options, including a white wine marinated poached pear sprinkled with cinnamon and a selection of boutique Israeli chocolates from the De Karina chocolate factory in the Golan Heights to accompany a strong shot of espresso or another glass of wine.
As the warmer season rapidly approaches, the Red and White wine bar is ready to offer guests who are slowly emerging from their winter slumber a unique and exclusive experience. Mark Arnold Jam believes that location is everything, and he hopes to win over tourists with his “hotel bar without the hotel” experience. With so many types of wines to imbibe and cheeses to taste, the young wine bar’s sole proprietor attests: “It’s not so much about the stuff on the menu, it’s about creating a space and finding a true human element.”
The writer was a guest of the bar.
Red and White Wine Bar
8 Shlomo Hamelech Street
(02) 645-1212