This is not going to be a wine post – primarily – though we will circle back to wine at some point in this post. This is going to be a review of the newly opened Andalucia Cocktail Bar located in Kikar HaMusika in the center of Jerusalem. My wife Michal & I and another couple had the pleasure of dining there last week, sort of a belated birthday outing – Michal’s birthday having been on Yom Yerushalyim. Before I start, I want to disclose that I have known the head mixologist/bartender, Tai Kovler (you can find him on facebook here) since he was a boy – having grown up in my neighborhood in Beit Shemesh. Me knowing someone associated with the business never effects my review of food or drink as you all well know – but it’s important to be up front.
While mentioning Tai, it’s impossible not to mention his pedigree in the field. He is a 3 time finalist in the Israel World Class Barman competition and has worked at leading cocktail bars in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. He has created some really fun drinks for this bar – and we ordered them all. There really wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. Just tell them what you are in the mood for and they will suggest something that matches or will mix you a standard drink off menu – or even mix something freestyle, just for you. It’s truly a pleasure watching them work at the bar. It’s almost immersive. And they do it effortlessly. I watched Tai mix 5 different drinks at once – in a line building them all simultaneously. How he kept 5 individual drink recipes straight is beyond me. 4 of the the drinks were for us – and they came out perfectly, as you can see. Really amazing – and tasty – (my favorite being the Tio Tio)!
On to the food, we didn’t order the ENTIRE menu, but we did order 10 different items altogether including desert, all pictured below except for the Mini Burgers which I neglected to snap. Each of the dishes was plated beautifully and tasted for the most part as good as it looked. There were a couple that perhaps could have used a bit more seasoning or spice – but for the most part, everything was on point. The plates are designed to be small tapas style dishes – and they are – so if you are going for a meal they recommend ordering 3 of the dishes for 2 people but we ordered much more. The dishes range in price from NIS 32-62. That’s actually the biggest criticism here. You get two sliders for NIS 62 – that is overpriced. In fact, our party spent over NIS 200 a person for dinner, drinks and dessert – and that was after they graciously comped us for a round of tequila shots, the empanadas and the churos. My guess is, that they will adjust pricing or portion as they find their footing. It’s a soft opening – much of the staff had started withing the week – the second bartender had started that night!
On to the layout. The place has 3 floors, plus, at the basement level there is also a small wine lounge. The first floor has an open window kitchen and a seating area. The second floor is the main bar and the primary seating area (believe it or not, I forgot to take a picture!) plus a balcony overlooking the square. The 3rd floor has another bar and a space for private parties. And as mentioned there is that small lounge wine lounge area in the basement. All of it looks beautiful too – and it’s not even 100% finished.
Now there is an opportunity here – and I hope the owners (who also own the neighboring Kinor Bakikar that we sometimes use for monthly RCC when neither Uri nor Bracha is available) and Tai are listening. Currently, they have that small wine lounge area in the basement – and Tai mentioned that they would eventually like to offer a wine list. But they have a full bar on that 3rd floor! It might make sense to convert that area into a full wine bar – and really become a one stop location for whatever you happen to be drinking – wine or cocktails – instead of having the wine sort of thrown in there as an afterthought. You could still rent out the floor as a private room and serve wine on the second floor when the 3rd floor was in use for parties – but basically there is enough space for this bar to really service both types of drinkers. Yes, they would need to get a little serious about creating a full wine list and more extensive cellar – but that’s really the easier part of the equation here. Who knows – maybe it’ll happen.
Overall we had a great time at Andalucia. It’s a very nice addition to Kikar HaMusica and the Jerusalem Restaurant and Bar scene.