Tourist Tip #34 / Alcoholic Drinks

Yasmin Kaye
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Yasmin Kaye

Israelis are a cosmopolitan bunch, so at first glance you’ll find that their drinking habits are much the same as anywhere else in the Western world – the usual bottle of wine with dinner, glass of bubbly on a night out, a pitcher of beer with the guys or vodka as a nightcap. But at closer inspection, Israeli drinks – and drinkers – have their own distinctive flavor. Watering holes can offer much to discover for the tourist.

Although home-grown boutique beers are all the rage, the most popular local brands remain the ubiquitous Goldstar – to be found in nearly every watering hole across the land – and Maccabi. Many bars also offer a discount “chaser” (better known to you and me as a "shot") of a spirit such as whisky, vodka, or arak to wash down those suds.

In fact, arak - a potent anise-flavored aperitif traditionally served throughout the Middle East – is one of the most popular drinks in Israel. Arak is very cheap in comparison with imported spirits, and its versatility means it can be combined with a variety of mixers. It goes especially well with fresh grapefruit juice, which is also commonly served with other lightly colored spirits such as vodka.

Another popular mixer is “limonana” – an invigorating combination of lemonade and mint. (Limon is lemon, nana is mint).

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that old clubber’s favorite – the vodka Red Bull. Popular with the younger crowd, it’s not exotic and it’s definitely not Israeli, but it is almost everywhere to be found.

Sniffing out the local drinking scene? Israelis love to sip their spirits, wines and local beers.Credit: Reuters

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