Summer is here, with its warm temperatures and intense rays. In Israel, you learn to embrace the heat, and find your own sources of relief.
Jerusalemites rely on the cool night air, a boon during the summer and often necessitating a light jacket, even in July and August. In Tel Aviv and along the shore, there’s the sea, those cool, cerulean waters that welcome you at any time of day.
More importantly, locals have invented an entire array of cool treats, perfect for slaking thirst and offering energy during days of summer touring.
Start with a popsicle. It’s a known fact that every local grocery store or kiosk available, whether on top of a mountain or on any city corner, has a freezer full of popsicles, and sometimes there’s nothing more thirst-quenching than one of those industrially produced fruit flavored ices, say in lemon, melon or pineapple. (It’s always a better bet to choose the ices rather than the ice cream, although Magnum, the ice cream popsicles made by Unilever, are fantastically rich and delicious.)
But, if you’re in a more urban part of town, say the First Station complex in Jerusalem, or Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, you may very well find yourself near a freezer full of Paletas, the South American-styled fruit popsicles, made by local Nomi Zysblat, in more complex flavors like Chocolate Peanut Butter, Mango Lassi, Japanese Green Tea or Vegan Coconut. Follow the Paletas Facebook page to keep track of their locations and flavors, and if you need to find a Paletas wherever you are, message them on FB, in English. Someone will answer!
You’ll usually find those slushy drinks at many stops, and we’ll never stop you from buying one. They’re the Israeli equivalent of the 7-11 Slurpie. But, if the coffee flavor is your fave, just know that Aroma’s Ice Aroma is the original, and probably the best. It comes in two sizes, and there’s also a diet version, if you’re keeping track of calories while on vacation.
And if we’re on the subject of coffee, let’s talk iced coffee. Aroma — the coffee chain founded by two Jerusalem brothers and now with stores around the country — does offer a solid option, with Iced Cappuccino or a personal favorite, Iced Espresso, which is an Americano on ice, with a splash of milk, if so desired. A squirt of sugar water makes it feel like a treat.
Stopping at a cafe? Ask for a limonana, which is Hebrew for lemonade and mint leaves; some places just stir in mint leaves to their lemonade. That’s not what you want. The best ones are slushies made from fresh lemonade and mint leaves, leaving you to slurp it all up to the last drop.
If you want an excellent cup of cold brew coffee, try one of these options. In Tel Aviv, head to Cafelix in the Noga neighborhood, where these coffee experts have perfected the smoothest cold brew around. They even store coffee cups for their regulars.
Their Jerusalem counterpart is Roasters in the Mahane Yehuda Market, on the main covered part of the market, across from the Basher Cheese stand. Go for broke and have one of their cakes or cookies with your cold brew; they’re worth the calories.
Another stop worth making — and bugging your tour guide for — is Cafe Levinsky in the Levinsky spice market, where they make an art of gazoz, the flavored seltzer water that’s made a comeback in recent years. This sweet little stand makes their own fruit syrups, and mix it all up with swizzle sticks of fresh rosemary, mint and thyme.
It’s a divine drink for a hot day.
When the day’s come to an end, and it’s time for a cocktail, think about choosing one made with arak, the Levantine spirit made from anis, the flavoring familiar from black licorice. It’s an acquired taste, but if you like it, there’s nothing more refreshing than arak on ice, mixed with grapefruit or lemon juice.
Finally, impress the bartender and ask for a Tubi 60 cocktail. This lemony moonshine was created by two Haifa-born brothers, named for their family and packs some 60 herbs and fruit essences into an 80-proof spirit. It’s potent stuff, and could be just the thing after a day of seeing the sites.