7 Best Israeli Cocktails of 2013

These extraordinary, innovative concoctions, featuring Israeli evolutions of American classics, may change your culinary life.

In 2013, it finally happened. Fashionably late, by nearly 10 years, Tel Aviv joined the world and what had been an afterthought on the drinks menu has become the talk of the town.

And when we say that cocktails have become a star item at the best bars and restaurants in the city, we don't mean another passion fruit margarita or some generic mojito. We mean drinks as complex and sophisticated as the food served alongside them.

Kicky ingredients are the key. Tel Aviv cocktails include the latest twists, the best alcohol - and additions never seen before, at least in a cocktail glass - beets, butter, green tea, hyssop, lavender and even goose fat, for instance.

Nor are the people who concoct these cocktails mere mortal "barmen": they are "mixologists." And eight of Tel Aviv's leading luminaries of the cocktail have opened their closets to us, sharing their recipes for refreshing, innovative, and extraordinarily creative and mainly very Israeli cocktails.

The Mediterranean Sour: Avi Kashi of Gastro Pub 58

This year: "Food's become sexy and cocktails are part of the show."

His creation: A classic drink for the erudite: Herbal and bitter, with an Israeli touch.

The cocktail: Mediterranean Sour
15 ml. Angostura
30 ml. dry sherry
30 ml. arak
30 ml. rosetta (a drink based on almond concentrate)
30 ml. squeezed lemon
Price: 47 shekels ($13)

Gastro Pub 58, 58 Yehuda Halevi, Tel Aviv

Rosie Lee with real roses: Mosh Budnik of the Social Club

This year: "Israels are starting to drink more complex flavors. Not only fruits, but more vegetables have entered the drink: cucumbers, dill and coriander."

His creation: Sweet and sour, and rosy.

The Rosie Lee

60 ml. lychee syrup
60 ml. rose water syrup
Mix well in a blender and add:
50 ml. Bombay Gin
30 ml. lemon juice
Serve after shaking and straining
Price: 42 shekels ($12)

Option 2: Ginger Cosmopolitan

A variation on the tritest drink in the world – with ginger and pomegranate.

30 ml. Gray Goose vodka
20 ml. Mandarin orange syrup (or Grand Marnier)
Fresh pomegranate juice
Crushed ginger
Orange and ginger syrup

Price: 42 shekels ($12)

Social Club, 45 Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv

Halva martini: Ran Koren at the Mizlala

This year: "Square clientele discovered nuance, and vegetables. Today tahini- or hot chili-based cocktails are our best sellers."

His creation: "Sounds cliché but I dreamed of raw tahini and honey on bread, then thought: there's a drink in that."

The halva martini

Fine raw tahini with a mixture of silan (date syrup) and Canadian maple syrup
40 ml. spiced Bacardi OakHeart
Mix with ice and strain. Serve with strings of halva on top.
Price: 45 shekels ($13)

Mizlala, 57 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv

Margarita over coals: Yuval Sofer of Bertie

This year: Men discovered tall glasses with thin stems.

His creation: A unique Levantine twist on a classic.

Smokey Margarita over coals

60 ml. tequila
2 drops hot chili marinade
1/4 burnt beet
A Kir sour syrup based on cognac and oranges
30 ml. lime
15 ml. agave syrup
The cocktail is topped with a home-made salt mixture that includes cinnamon, salt, anise, fennel seeds and other ingredients smoked with absinthe.

Price: 48 shekels ($13)

Bertie, 88 King George, Tel Aviv

Spicy India: Bar Shira of the Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar

This year: "Israelis evolved from Red Bull vodka to rum and gin."

HIs creation: "Started with chai masala, which underwent multiple incarnations."

Crushed green cardamom with Tanqueray Gin
Orange liqueur
Amaro Montenegro herbal liqueur
Lemon juice
Almond syrup
An egg yolk
Rum syrup and spices
Grated bittersweet chocolate
A nutmeg

Price: 45 shekels ($13)

Imperial Cocktail Bar, 66 Hayarkon, Tel Aviv

Big Buttery News: Custer Thompson of Aria

This year: "Israelis evolve from sweet, strong drinks to smart ones."

His creation: A classic 1920s rum cocktail - with aged rum, clarified butter and an up-to-date twist. Drink it with toast on the side.

50 ml. of rum washed in clarified butter
25 ml. fresh lime juice
25 ml. fresh orange juice
2 tsp. honey
a spritz of orange oil
Price: 50 shekels ($14)

Aria: 66 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv

The Babushka: Rafael Yoha of Café (East) Europa

This year: People want content on TV, and in the glass.

His creation: A Slavic variation on a Bloody Mary, served in a jar.

The Babushka

60 ml. of vodka with lemon mixed with borscht
Bay leaves
Roasted beet
Crème fraiche
Price: 56 shekels ($16)

Café (East) Europa. Rothschild 9B, Tel Aviv
 

Eyal Toueg