Jerusalem is high on the list of cities that tourists must visit at least once in a lifetime. Filled with holy sites and ancient artifacts, it provides a fascinating experience.
However, what’s less well known about the city is that just as it was a cultural hub in ancient times, surprisingly it remains so to this day. Jerusalem, believe it or not, is home to a modern and flourishing nightlife scene.
Little cozy spots can be found in local neighborhoods, downtown Jerusalem, and in the Machane Yehuda market, which transforms into an all-night party come nightfall.
The bars on this list embody modern trends of the Israeli alcohol and culinary scene: There are speakeasys; gourmet bars with expert mixologists and world-class chefs; promoters of the growing local craft-beer scene; and neighborhood watering holes.
All unique in their own way, these are the spots you’re going to want to get to know once you’ve reached your limit on sightseeing for the day, and want to soak up a different kind of Jerusalem culture.
1. Gatsby, 18 Hillel St.
Downtown Jerusalem’s very own cocktail room headed by first-rate mixologists, Gatsby famously served Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk a flaming whisky-based cocktail last March during his visit to Israel.
Keeping up with the new style infiltrating the country, the bar is a journey back in time to the days of the 1920s speakeasy, mixed with a bunch of modern hipster flair, top-shelf picks and gourmet ingredients.
A completely original drink menu based on the seven deadly sins features cocktails like “Back to Black” (whisky, ginger liqueur, lemon, strawberry and pineapple) representing wrath; and “Local Pride” featuring arak, Gallianio L’Autentico, house-made coconut cream, lemon, honey and passionfruit, representing the sin of pride.
2. Yudale, 11 Beit Ya’akov St. (behind the Iraqi shuk at Machane Yehuda)
Yudale is one of the chef-run Machneyuda Group establishments that has helped turn Machane Yehuda market into a gourmet foodie destination since 2009.
Carrying over the fun, accessible vibe of its sister market-based restaurant across the way, Yudale (a nickname for “Yehuda”) tapas bar packs its own gourmet punch with cocktails, free-flowing local arak shots, and a rotating weekly menu of seriously good dishes made in an open kitchen.
Dine on dishes like beef carpaccio and grilled calamari, described on the menu with a dash of humor, while you interact with the bartenders and cooks who casually sing Israeli tunes, tap, and dance on the bar from time to time.
3. Hashchena Bar, 11 Beit Yaakov St.
Tucked away behind Machane Yehuda market next door to Yudale is the friendly bar Hashchena (The Neighbor). Meant to be your neighborhood pub, it is outfitted more like a community coffee shop than a bar.
Decorated with the telltale Jerusalem laundry that hangs on lines outside city residents’ windows, Hashchena is a favorite for young locals who want to grab a beer (or a cocktail served in a mason jar), and listen to a local band.
Alternatively, you can hang outside on the terrace and take in the crisp Jerusalem air as you snack on a giant soft pretzel with two dipping sauces, or caprese salad in a jar with fresh-baked focaccia, while you sip on a mojito made with local mint.
4. Beer Bazaar, main Machane Yehuda market
Started by Brooklynite turned Jerusalemite Avi Moskowitz, this bar — which offers 100 Israeli craft beers as well as its own nine brews, ciders and American-style food — was among the first to transform Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market into a nightlife destination.
With the innovative approach of taking over the market’s main aisles once the fruit-and-vegetable sellers pack up for the night, Beer Bazaar also created a back room large enough to accommodate the crowds that flock to see the hangout’s live musical performances.
Grab a stein of all-Israeli brews (including a new Beer Bazaar black IPA called “Dark Matter” and award-winning IPA “Pressure Drop”) and one of the only kosher hot pastrami sandwiches you’ll find in the country, and get to know the Israeli craft-beer scene as it continues to grow.
5. Andalucia, 12 Ma’avar Beit HaKnesset St.
With a colorful menu of kosher regional food including both Sephardic and Eastern European influences, Andalucia is located in Kikar Hamusika (Music Square) in the heart of Jerusalem’s downtown.
This is a great place to sit, dine on small tapas-sized dishes, drink a fancy cocktail, and take in the special Jerusalem atmosphere from the second-story windows. The bar boasts a Spanish-themed tile backsplash complete with pictures of bulls, Spanish guitars and hand-held fans.
You can snack on everything from empanadas to slow-cooked sofrito spiced with a Yemenite spice mix, all created by chef Shlmoni Attoun, while you drink one of the bar’s custom-made cocktails.
6. Tap & Tail, main Machane Yehuda market
Amongst the rowdy Machane Yehuda nightlife scene, Tap & Tail — a craft cocktail bar opened several months ago — is already a smashing success.
Sourcing mainly Israeli-made ingredients for its creative cocktails, this speakeasy in a surprise twist also serves up delicious tapas.
Dishes like fried gnocchi and cheese fries topped with Israeli Bulgarian cheese and served with homemade aioli are paired with cocktails such as “The Lion’s Milk,” which features Israeli arak; and “The Green Lamp,” which has the base of a strong Israeli citrus and herbal liqueur called Tubi60, and is served in a lightbulb.
7. Hatch Beer, main Machane Yehuda market
An additional spot holding its own on the Jerusalem craft-beer scene, Hatch was born out of the sheer determination of its American owner, Ephraim Greenblatt.
Building the place literally from scratch, Greenblatt has perfected the art of everything from building his own bar from raw materials, to brewing beer in bottles, to making American-style homemade kosher maple sausages with handmade casings, and describing them and his other food and drinks on the menu with smart wit.
The only place around where you can get a ginger-infused or sour beer to go with your homemade “funyons,” Hatch is a must on your Machane Yehuda bar tour.
8. Mamilla Mirror Bar, 11 Shlomo HaMelech St.
Cap: Mirror Bar at the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem. Photo by Amit Giron
If the hipster lifestyle isn’t your scene, head over to the classy Mamilla Hotel just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City for a quiet and upscale nightlife experience.
Offering a full kosher menu of decadent meaty appetizers including grilled bone marrow and Asian-inspired short ribs, classic cocktails using a wide selection of top-shelf alcohol as well as fresh takes such as a lychee champagne cocktail, and fresh mint-infused gin and tonic, plus wine and cigar lists, this mirror-lined cozy lounge will have you forgetting all about the noisy city below.
9. Zuta Cocktail Bar, 10 King David St.
The sister bar for Jerusalem chef Yankale Turjemon’s King David Street restaurant 1868, which serves haute kosher cuisine, Zuta is the intimate cocktail bar next door serving drinks like “Tommy’s Smoked Margarita” featuring tequila, agave, and smoked whisky; and “Jaffa Gate” made with fresh zaatar and Mediterranean spearmint, tequila, and gin, to go with casual yet fancy dishes such as fried artichoke and black truffle and ribeye steak with eggplant aioli.
10. Glen Whisk(e)y Bar, HaMalka St.
If you are looking for an Irish pub-style experience in Israel’s most ancient city, the Glen Whisk(e)y bar, with more than 200 hundred whisky varieties, is just the thing for you.
Going strong for 10 years, the bar in the downtown triangle also has 19 beers on tap (seven of which are local craft brews) that pair well with the homemade burgers, hotdogs and classic rock-and-roll music playing in the background.