Whisky Paradise

Last week, I visited the Whiskey Bar Museum in Sarona, Tel Aviv with a couple of friends. We had a ball. And a few drinks…

Setting: the place is an underground chamber, originally built by the Templers of Sarona as a wine cellar, and previously in use by the Mossad. (No, I don’t know what they did there. That’s way above my pay grade.) But once you get down the narrow stairway and into the actual bar/restaurant area, there is no feeling of claustrophobia; instead, it’s quite airy and spacious. For example, the tables are well spread out, and you can chat in confidence with some degree of privacy.

You want to go here

The whisky (and whiskey) is a major part of the setting and the atmosphere. Apart from a couple of standalone glass cabinets, one complete wall in the main chamber hosts nothing but bottles of the water of life. There is another seating area with less whisky.

The background music was inoffensive and unobtrusive. The lighting was spot on. Overall, I thought it was a well done setting that showed off the whisky in a fine manner.

Food: this is a meaty restaurant with a kashrut certificate that is not from the Rabbanut. As far as I am concerned, that’s a huge point in their favor. For starters, we shared the mushrooms (excellent), carpaccio (very good), bruschetta  with beef (OK), and the house bread and dips (very good). For main course, we all had the dry-aged rib eye steak. It was a little fatty for me, but exceedingly tasty. We were too stuffed to have dessert!

Speyside in Hebrew

Whisky and whiskey: they have two whiskey menus. One lists all their 1,002 different types. Just reading it made my eyes glaze over. The other is a smaller tasting menu. In the latter, you choose from several possibilities – Highlands, Lowlands, Japan, Peaty, whatever – and are served four different 25 ml measures of that type of whiskey. Me and my friends had experienced 90% of the scotch on the tasting menu selections, so we went freelance. We ordered from the main list, asked for extra glasses, and shared and tasted. Superb. I think we all liked the Mortlach the best, and the Ledaig the least. However, they were all whiskies we would gladly drink again. We drank only scotch, but for the final selection which the waiter heavily promoted: a Taiwanese whiskey called Kavalan. Having won the top whisky award in 2015, this should not have disappointed. It didn’t!

New to me; this was an excellent whisky

Prices: I would say that the prices for food and drink were reasonable. Not too expensive, but not cheap. You can go over the top on the whisky if you want; for example, I saw a couple of 500 shekel prices fro some of the rarer whiskies. Yes, that’s for one drink, not the bottle. (As an aside, they say they will sell you a bottle if you want, but they had run out of a couple of bottles that we wanted to buy. So, a wee black mark there.) It’s not the type of place I would be running to every week, but it’s definitely now high on my list of places to go for something a bit special.

Another discovery; peaty, complex, and the right side of sharp

Overall: I had a great time. I liked the setting, the food, and the whisky selection was incredible. I can highly recommend this.