Cocktail bars in Tel Aviv, just like in the rest of Israel, are still not so trendy. Apart from several exemplary bars, such as Imperial Craft Cocktails, which was chosen to be the best bar in the Middle East several times, and the beautiful Bellboy Bar hidden behind the heavy curtains of Berdichevsky Hotel, the keystone of the streets of this hot and noisy city is offering simple and familiar drinks, free chasers from a bartender, and most importantly – environment for nonstop talking. These are the reasons why people go to a bar. This is why they meet after work for a glass of beer during these precious happy hours. Here one goes for a cocktail only on a special occasion: when you are on a date or you are celebrating a holiday, and one doesn’t stay long: the average Israeli is fine with a cocktail or two. Where there’s demand, there’s supply, so it’s not strange that in the middle of the very hipster district of Tel Aviv – Florentine – there is a small bar – Cocktails & Dreams – which is somewhat between a cocktail bar and a place where one can casually drop in, probably just for the sake of air conditioning.
Cocktails & Dreams shares the space with the burger stand Ben’z Argentinian Diner, that’s why the signboard appears to be a hybrid name of two – Benz Cocktails. By the way, I hardly know any Israeli bar where people don’t eat, here such a bar would definitely not catch on. And burgers, I must admit, are worth trying, and moreover I totally disprove the widespread opinion that street food and cocktails are not comme il faut.
The bar appears to be rather funny – the wall decor with the golden-painted pineapples and pink flamingos, a plastic parrot, sitting on the perch under the ceiling, photoshopped pictures of the bar owners together with Tom Cruise receiving an Oscar. The menu consists of signature cocktails, named after well-known personalities. In fact, these names are very descriptive. For example, the cocktail Jackie – self-confident, elegant Jacqueline Kennedy, JFK – handsome and everyone’s favorite Kennedy himself, and foxy Trump. You are surrounded with motley colors, crazy eclecticism: American cans for crocodile cookies, dancing figurines of Hawaiian girls, jars as from old pharmacy shops, traditional glasses for Shabbat wine, vintage shot glasses brought from Romania. It’s quite a garage bar of a surfer-traveler.
I really like the style of Israeli bars. It is almost always something very simple and casual, where you feel comfortable from the first minute. And it always seems that this bar was just born here, just grew up, no one really worked on it, as if some other forces created its character. But when I noticed a trophy from the Finlandia Cup in the corner, while watching the bartender preparing blanks, I understand that the behind-the-scenes work was done, that all these different-sized vintage glasses were dug up from the bowels of the flea markets, that the recipes were worked out, that the place was chosen not by chance. But I like that this knowledge and understanding is not imposed on anyone, that you can come in here on your way, while walking your dog, but you can also delve together with the bartender in the unknown tastes of Japanese bitters standing on the counter.
Frenkel 4, Tel Aviv
Mon-Thu, Sat 6:00 p.m. – 02:00 a.m.
Fri 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sun – Closed
Happy Hours – 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
cover photo – facebook.com/COCKTAILSandDREAMSTLV/