The Jew And The Carrot

Jerusalem's New Cocktail Bar Shakes Things Up

By Katherine Martinelli

  • Print
  • Share Share
Katherine Martinelli

New visitors to Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market, or shuk, may not find it noteworthy that an upscale cocktail bar called Casino de Paris has recently popped up amidst its labyrinthine alleys. Seeing the boutiques and artisanal food products that now accompany the traditional butchers, fishmongers and produce vendors, newbies may not realize that just a decade ago, the future of Mahane Yehuda was not so bright. But this bar, along with the hundreds of young Jerusalemites that flock to it each evening, tells the story of the shuk’s revitalization.

“Ten years ago [the market] almost vanished,” explains Eli Mizrahi, the former head of the Mahane Yehuda merchants association and the man credited with launching the shuk renaissance. A third generation shuk vendor, Mizrahi was unable to stand the thought of the market’s demise. So he took a risk and in 2000 opened the upscale Café Mizrahi in the center of it, serving cappuccinos and fresh pasta, camembert sandwiches and shakshuka. “It was kind of craziness,” he recalls. But word spread through the media and it brought people back, breathing new life into Mahane Yehuda.

Now, 11 years later, he and partner Sha’anan Street (the lead singer of popular Israeli band Hadag Nahash have opened the first cocktail bar in the market. “I like to be a pioneer,” Mizrahi says with a twinkle in his eye. Although he notes that there are plenty of bar-restaurants and small bars around the city, there’s nothing quite like this, least of all in the market. In fact, while there are bars, cocktail culture is still virtually non-existent in Jerusalem and a place like this with a creative cocktail list is refreshing in every sense of the word.

Besides being a symbol of the present and future of the market, Casino de Paris is also awash in its history. The new bar can be found in the building where the original Casino de Paris — a rowdy officers’ club, bordello, dance hall, and music venue — operated during the British Mandate in the 1940s. Mizrahi and Street had the idea to open a place by the same name four years ago, but could not find an appropriate space. Then, a few months ago, the owner of the newly vacant building approached Mizrahi, and he knew it was meant to be.

Mizrahi and Street took great care to restore the space, which until recently belonged to a china importer. They moved original tiles from upstairs into the bar area, stripped down the walls to show the exposed brick, and added a tasteful, classic-looking bar. The menu at Casino de Paris is styled after a Spanish tapas bar, explains Mizrahi. They serve only a few small plates of kosher charcuterie, smoked fish, and ceviche (all of which they source elsewhere) to accompany the vast drink selection. In a few weeks they plan on adding a soup, perhaps a goulash, that is made in house, but that will be it for the small menu. They offer a large selection of local Israeli wines and beers and a concise but thoughtful cocktail list.

The cocktails, which were concocted by Street, each take inspiration from the market and Israel. The Georgian Market, for example, is named after the small enclave in the market where Casino de Paris hides, and contains a boozy, clear Georgian spirit called Chacha that is akin to grappa. For the Yitzhak Rabin cocktail, “we want to remember our prime minister who was on the way to bringing us peace,” explains Mizrahi. So they took Rabin’s favorite drink — whiskey and soda — and added symbolic olive leaves.

Casino de Paris opens each day at noon and stays open late into the night, which is when it really comes alive, bringing an unusual bit of exuberance to the shuk after hours. Along with everything else in the market it closes for Shabbat, but reopens to a large crowd on Saturday evenings.

Although the bar has only been open for three months, Casino de Paris has quickly proven to be an instant success with 200+ young Israelis and expats in the know crowding the bar each night. “It’s amazing what’s happening here,” says Mizrahi, pleased and a little awed by the bar’s popularity. “I think that the city needed something like this because there was not any other place like this before. So [it’s] kind of a refreshment to the nightlife of Jerusalem.”

Casino de Paris, 3 Mahane Yehuda (Georgian Market), Jerusalem, 02-6504265

Finding Casino de Paris can be a bit tricky. From Jaffa Road walk down Mahane Yehuda (the main, uncovered thoroughfare of the market) towards Agrippas and take your very first left until you hit a little square, known as the Georgian Market. Casino de Paris is in the far corner.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shuk, Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem, Cocktail Bar Jerusalem, Casino de Paris

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.