Dining: A little cocktail bar with a big punch

Zuta at 1868 combines well-executed cocktails with simple and delicious food.

Zuta Cocktail Bar (photo credit: PR)
Zuta Cocktail Bar
(photo credit: PR)
Cocktail bars are popping up all over Tel Aviv, but until recently Jerusalemites struggled to find a good cocktail, and it was even harder to find a nice bar with good kosher food.
Zuta solves both these problems in one.
The bar itself is at the back of 1868 restaurant, owned and run by chef Yankale Turjeman. You can either access it through the main restaurant or from the courtyard behind the restaurant. For now the bar is limited to a few small tables and seats around the bar, but as the Jerusalem nights finally warm up, there will also be some outside seating. My summation of the bar is simplicity; the décor is simple but charming, the ambiance is relaxed, and the food and cocktails are based on high-quality ingredients, without pomp or circumstance.
My companion and I both have a preference for rum and ginbased cocktails, so we stuck to cocktails containing Bacardi Superior rum and Bombay Sapphire and Bombay Sapphire East gin. I had not previously tried Bombay Sapphire East gin, which is the same original recipe with the addition of Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns, and I loved the spicy twist.
First I selected a light and refreshing Maid in Cuba (NIS 48), a combination of Bacardi Superior, fresh lime (imported when not available locally), fresh mint and cucumber. My companion went with the more traditional Daiquiri (NIS 38), which he deemed to be the best-made Daiquiri in all of Israel, quite the compliment.
Next up was the gin-based Tarragon Smash (NIS 38) that spoke to me the most – and I was not disappointed. The cocktail had a slight anise-flavor profile, which I adore, and the tarragon gave an incredible fresh taste. Back to the rum cocktails, we selected a Painkiller (NIS 44), made with Bacardi Superior, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, fresh lime and coconut syrup. This was a far more sophisticated and less sweet version of the Malibu and pineapple drinks I used to love as a teenager. Finally we tried a private label Zuta cocktail called Barrel Aged Negroni (NIS 38), a unique house version of a traditional Negroni that they age for 2 months.
The food menu is simple but covers all the bases. We started with the homemade charcuterie platter (NIS 50) which consisted of four types of meat including succulent sirloin bresaola and an incredibly smoky duck prosciutto, as well as slightly less exciting turkey pastrami and veal cornbeef.
That was followed by cigars (NIS 36) filled with sweetbreads, liver and some other internal organs, which created a unique flavor profile.
From the bowl section of the menu, we tried the veal short rib and potatoes gnocchi (NIS 46), incredibly juicy slow-cooked veal served with crunchy asparagus and snow peas and the lightest gnocchi that were like eating clouds. The lemon garlic vinaigrette provided a wonderful citrus tang to a delightful dish.
Our final main course was the sirloin cut in satay (NIS 42), a perfectly executed juicy steak with a crispy crust. The sauce was the correct balance of creamy and spicy without overpowering the steak and the portion was generous. I was too full to try the fish dishes, but I plan to return to test out the fish and chips (NIS 48) and home-preserved red tuna (NIS 38).
For dessert, we devoured the Valrhona chocolate mousse (NIS 32), which was incredibly rich and decadent and perfect after a few cocktails.
Although predominantly a cocktail bar, Zuta offers a wide selection of spirits, and customers can also order food and wine from the main restaurant. The bar is a great destination for tourists and locals of all ages looking to enjoy good quality food and drink. The bar has a happy hour every weekday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with 50 percent off all cocktails.
Zuta Cocktail Bar at 1868
10 King David Street, Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 622-2312
Sunday to Thursday, 6 p.m. until last customer
Saturday, an hour after Shabbat until last customer