The BEST Bar in Jerusalem (aka Where to Spend Shabbat in Jerusalem)
I’d like to start this post by admitting that no, I did not, in fact, visit every single bar in Jerusalem to determine which one was *the best*. In fact, I went to hardly any bars because so many of them were Irish pubs and others were packed with douchey tourists. Being that I was visiting the Middle East for what might be the only time ever, I was not going to step a fucking foot into a faux Irish pub unless there was a gun pointed at my head.
But I did do some Googling and Yelp’ing and I found a bar called Gatsby Cocktail Room about a 20-minute walk from our hotel. The first night we tried going there happened to be a Thursday night, which in Jerusalem is THE night to go outside because of Shabbat and all, so we walked over after dinner to try our luck and as we suspected, there was no chance that we were getting in.
We did, however, think that maybe we’d have luck if we went by soon after Shabbat ended on Saturday night. So, we had our end-of-Shabbat services, ate our dinners, and then walked back over to the area where Gatsby was located.
It was crazy to see the city re-opening on a Saturday night after it was shuttered for an entire 24 hours. We passed through The Shuk and saw that vendors were re-opening and other bored tourists such as ourselves were eagerly awaiting to be able to imbibe after 24 hours of doing a whole lot of nothing.
The door into the Gatsby was an unmarked dark door next at the end of a dark pathway located next to an Aroma.
Luckily, our thinking was on spot and we arrived as soon as we could after dinner and walked right into the bar (through a secret door behind a bookcase, of course). We were transported back to the 1920s and prohibition and bartenders (I don’t know if they referred to themselves as “mixologists”) who looked Straight Outta Brooklyn.
We sat a hightop table and reviewed the menus that were quickly placed in front of us. The drinks were intricate, with fancy names. I ordered the Baba Marta, I think, and I was not disappointed. It also came in a really cool mug (see the main photo above!).
As we sipped our drinks and it got a bit later into the night, the crowd inside got larger and soon it was difficult to maneuver from table to table. We’d picked the right time to go apparently.
The crowd was trendy and the service was as decent as you’ll get when your waiter isn’t dependent upon the kindness of strangers (aka tips) and is instead paid a living wage (#novelidea) and thus isn’t willing to kiss your ass the entire night. It’s a little annoying, coming from the land of overeager waiters in the States, but it’s also nice to be left alone a bit.
After a couple of drinks and an hour or so, we paid our bill and left through the secret library door that led to the lobby which was now filled with people eager to take our table.
So although I didn’t try every bar in Jerusalem, I’m pretty sure this one was the coolest. If you’re there, I implore you to try getting in, but just remember to get there early.
Gatsby Cocktail Room is located at 18 Hillel.