Tel Aviv still has a long way to go compared to a lot of other big cities when it comes to the happy hour drinking culture. But there are still plenty of places where you can enjoy an early drink without breaking the bank. Good deals on beer, wine and cocktails are not uncommon anymore, and with a growing number of places offering serious discounts on their food menu as well, one can enjoy a real early evening celebration and still wake up fresh for work the next morning.
Here are our top happy hour recommendations:
Brola: Hola Brasserie’s new bar (and smoking lounge)
One of Tel Aviv's nicest bars is relatively new and still hiding beneath the radar. Inside chef Victor Gloger’s Hola Brasserie facing the sea, you’ll find this smokers’ lounge. At the bar there is quiet, excellent service and skillfully prepared cocktails. There’s a wonderful gin and tonic with pink grapefruit, dried roses and star anise; a gin seasoned with cilantro and cucumber; a surprising mai tai with rum and rosetta; an excellent Negroni and a wide selection of other sweet-sour cocktails. The deal: Sundays through Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. all drinks are buy one, get one free. The food here is a little different from what is served in the restaurant. Don’t miss the tomato carpaccio and Bloody Mary sorbet, the empanadas stuffed with oxtail and hard-boiled egg, the goose liver paté with homemade pannetone, lokus ceviche with labane ,and pizza with spicy merguez sausages.
Brola, 87 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv
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Guga Coffee and Wine: A neighborhood café with outrageously cheap alcohol
This neighborhood cafe on Zeitlin Street in Tel Aviv is worth a visit, especially if you like to drink superb wine on the cheap. The young owner previously worked at Alkalay Wine Bar and has selected interesting wines from around the world, which she also serves by the glass. The large selection includes wines from Slovenia and Croatia, a rosé from the MAIA Winery, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, an Austrian Riesling, Italian Chablis, Primitivo and Pinot Grigio, a Sicilian red, a fortified French rosé, exciting Spanish wines and Malbec. The deal: On Thursdays from 6 P.M., these wines are served by the glass with unlimited refills for just 60 shekels. The rest of the week, as of 4 P.M., the deal is buy one, get one free for cocktails, wine and beer. The food is unassuming but tasty; we recommend the Belgian waffle with smoked goose breast and egg; the croissant with cream cheese and salmon; the spicy masbaha with beans; the marvelous orange cake and knaffeh.
Guga Coffee and Wine, 1 Zeitlin Street, Tel Aviv
El Vecino: Spanish wine and tapas bar
The Spanish-inspired bar at the end of Ibn Gabirol Street offers the typical array of tapas alongside creative cocktails, wine and beer. There are frequent evening events featuring winemakers or importers offering unusual wines by the glass, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the schedule. The deal: Sunday-Thursday from 6:45 to 8 P.M., cocktails, wine and beer are buy one get one free, and you can also get a first course free when you order a main course from the food menu. The selection of first courses includes grape leaves with tzatziki, tempura-coated corn with chipotle aioli, green papaya salad and cauliflower falafel with yogurt. For main courses, choose from a hamburger, mussar (red drum) fillet with homemade gnocchi, fish and chips, mushroom gnocchi and more. Drinks menu includes cold white or red Sangria, a verbena daiquiri, grapefruit and basil Caipirinha, mojito, Negroni and a Chardonnay martini.
El Vecino, 192 Ibn Gabirol Street, Tel Aviv
Rama: Neighborhood pizza bar with surreal cocktails
One of the funnest places to drink can be found on King George Street. At Rama, in addition to the fantastic pizzas, you’ll find cocktails that don’t take themselves too seriously. The deal: Sunday toThursday from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M., Friday from 1 to 2 P.M. and Saturday until 8:30 PM there’s a 50 percent discount on the entire alcohol menu and a 30 percent discount on the entire food menu. Our favorite cocktails here were the Zilif with vodka, guava and basil and the Rama the Ninth, which is based on tequila and flavored with Cointreau, black sambuca and hot red chili pepper.
Rama, 38 King George Street, Tel Aviv
Cicchetti: An Italian pub worth visiting
Since it first opened, Cicchetti has been serving aperitifs that haven’t lost any of their charm. The deal: Sunday to Thursday from 5 to 7 P.M., Italian spritzers, cocktails and vermouths are full price but the food menu is 30 percent off. Among our favorite dishes here: the Italian tasting platter, ceviche with pistachios, arancini with salsa verde, fried seafood, and carbonara with lamb bacon, cream and peas. Let the bartenders lead you on a magical Italian journey of new drinks. You will also often find bottles that alcohol importers wish to test on a small scale before importing them on a large scale.
Cicchetti, 58 Yehuda Halevi Street, Tel Aviv
Moche: Famed tapas bar Tapeo’s kid brother
Moche opened last winter, the first bar of its kind in Kikar Givon. It’s a small, pleasingly dim bar reminiscent of the ceviche bars of Barcelona and Madrid. The deal: Monday through Thursday from 6 to 8 P.M., all drinks and cocktails are half-price, and beer is buy one get one free. On the cocktail menu by mixologist Ohad Chen you’ll find a Bloody Mary with sumac syrup, Persian lemon, cloves and star anise; gin spiced with basil and herb liqueur; a vodka, citrus, passion fruit and pomegranate cocktail; and other special drinks based on tequila and mezcal. Along with the drinks, try the barmundi ceviche marinated in tequila and lime with smoked pepper sauce; Peruvian-style bass ceviche with avocado cream and crispy tortilla; fried calamari; the hamburger with garlic aioli, chimichurri and crispy onions; and other dishes from Tapeo’s kitchen.
Moche, 105 Kikar Givon, corner of Hahashmonaim, Tel Aviv
La Otra: Imperial Cocktail Bar’s wild Mexican sister
This Mexican bar owned by the Imperial group has had its ups and downs, but things have stabilized nicely, serving colorful food that’s lively and delicious. The deal: All week from 6 to 8 P.M., cocktails are half-price and beer and wine are specially priced. Among the favorites here are Madame Lili, which contains rum, absinthe, green apple and calvados, the Ooga-Mooga-Booga with a long list of ingredients and the Mamacita Caliente, which mixes tequila, yellow Chartreuse, passion fruit and fresh chili pepper. The food menu includes a vegan taco with roasted cauliflower, fresh pineapple, jalapeno and crispy shallot; a spring chicken and lamb burrito; and grilled calamari with smoked paprika.
La Otra, 66 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv
Dalida: The Levinsky Market’s happy pub
This place was one of the first to offer a discounted menu, and it really took the idea and ran with it. The deal, one of the best in town: Sunday through Thursday from 5to 7 P.M., the entire food menu is half-price. Drinks and dessert are full price, but it’s still one of the best deals in the city. Among the hits here are spicy feta brulée; beef fillet on toasted bread with aioli yogurt; tomato gazpacho; raw zucchini salad; and the lamb, pistachios and halloumi kebabs.
Dalida, 7 Zebulun Street, Tel Aviv
Leyla: A modern bar and grill from the HaKovshim Bistro
Last December, the owners of HaKovshim Bistro opened a small bar right nearby that draws inspiration from the alleyways of Kerem Hateimanim. They serve small dishes of charcoal-grilled meats and original cocktails seasoned with things like hel, hawaij and cinnamon. The deal: Sunday to Thursday from 6 to 8 P.M., 89 shekels will get you a three-course meal of bread and spreads followed by a first course and a main course from a limited menu selection. First courses include ceviche, arais and a vegetable platter; main courses include various types of grilled meat on skewers, hamburgers and grilled fish, and all come with a side of fries. Also, every night from midnight, you get a free chaser after each drink and everything on the food menu is 20 percent off.
Leyla Bar & Grill, 55 Hakovshim Street, Tel Aviv
Denim: An old-fashioned neighborhood bar
This neighborhood pub on King George Street is worth getting to know because it offers some of the best deals in town for drinks, and great prices on the food, too. The deal: Sunday through Thursday, and Saturday from 5:30 to 9 P.M., all beer, wine and cocktails are buy one get one free, and prices on the food menu drop to 16, 22 and 26 shekels, depending on the category. Try the seared corn on the cob with chipotle butter; the labaneh with artichoke, grated tomato and almonds; the baked potato with cheddar; the vegan burrito or the beef carpaccio. On Friday the deal applies to alcohol only, from 1 to 7:30 P.M.
Denim, 83 King George Street, Tel Aviv