Tourist Tip #34 / Alcoholic Drinks

Israel's watering holes can offer much to discover for the tourist.

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.