Visiting Tel Aviv? Come Taste Israel's Cocktail Revolution

Tel Aviv's City Hall wants to invite you to a cocktail party tonight. And if you can't make it, try these creative recipes by Israeli chefs perfectly suited to the spirit of summer.

Dan Peretz

Guess what — Tel Aviv is inviting you to a cocktail party. Dress Code: colorful.

Israel is in the midst of a fabulous cocktail revolution, and chefs are coming up with creative, new combinations. In these estival evenings, a champagne or wine cocktail seems an apt choice for a drink.

Today and tomorrow, July 1 and 2, the Tel Aviv municipality is hosting Cocktails Festival 2015 at the Old Railway Station. Tickets can be purchased in advance for 69 shekels, or at the door for 79 shekels, and include three cocktails. The Netofa winery will serve cocktails based on their wines.

If you can't make it, some of Tel Aviv's finest bars are offering recipes you can make in the comfort of your home. Ben Sheridan, of Tel Aviv's great bar Imperial, is serving a drink called La Orquidea this summer, made with rum and sherry, a fortified wine. A few shakes of bitters hold it up and give it some backbone.

And Guy Haran, from the Ish Hanavim wine emporium, has come up with a refreshing drink somewhere between a crisp, chilled white wine and a Gin and Tonic. Called Fresh Summer, its genius is in its use of rosewater, which connects the heavily perfumed scents of a Levantine summer to Hendricks, the delicious Scottish gin, which is also scented with roses.

Friends outside Israel also have some wonderful ideas, none simpler or more straightforward that the Kalimotxo, a Basque drink that is basically equal parts Coca-Cola and red wine poured over ice. You can "add a squeeze lemon if you want to be fancy," says Rosie Schaap, The New York Times' drink columnist. If the combination sounds weird she advises, "think of sangria, but without all the chopping of fruit."

Her colleague, the wine columnist Eric Asimov, says his hands-down favorite is the French 75, which I'd say is the California beach boy to the bespectacled intellectual of the  classic Kir (Champagne, cassis). The recipe cheerfully launches with the following instructions: "Pour [the other ingredients] into tall glass containing cracked ice and fill up with Champagne." Here too, the magic is conjured from a floral, herbaceous injection of gin. (An alternative version allows you to swap the gin for cognac, exchanging floral lightness for caramel and alcohol.)

As for me, my fallback drink has long been a white sangria based on a bright, clean unoaked Chardonnay and some vodka I've been infusing with citrus peels since winter.

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Fresh Summer

Recipe courtesy of Ish Hanavim. Serves 1.

90 ml of New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc

15 ml Hendricks gin

Splash of rosewater

15 ml of fresh sweetened lemon juice

half a cucumber, sliced

Shake first four ingredients well in a shaker and serve in a tall glass garnished with a slice of cucumber.

La Orquidea

Recipe courtesy of Imperial Bar. Serves 1.

45 ml Zacapa Centenario rum

30 ml oleo-saccharum (citrus oil syrup)

22.5 ml fino sherry (Tio Pepe)

2 dashes Aphrodite Bitters

Pour over ice into a tea cup. Zest a grapefruit peel over the drink, and add 2 drops of sesame oil.