By: Anabelle Kaplan
Café Levinsky 41 is undoubtedly the most boho-chic “soda” joint in the entire world – and perhaps the only one. However, “soda” is the most misguided term to describe the artisanal, refreshing potions that Benny Briga whips up in his tiny shop.
After opening just two years ago in the Levinsky Market, Café Levinsky 41 has become an establishment for hipster locals living in the surrounding Florentin neighborhood. Walking by the café, one may wonder what they could possibly serve from such a mini stand that resembles a wizardry lab. I urge you to find out.
“You want to try?” he asks me. “Yes, can I see a menu please?” I respond. “There is no menu, I just make – you must watch.” Benny takes out a plastic cup and adds a few ice cubes, spoonfuls of mysterious fruit preserves, a few sprigs of fresh herbs, and a sprinkle of chia seeds. He adds seltzer water and mixes the drink together.
Watching Benny create this drink, called Gazoz in Hebrew, is a true art form. He doesn’t just throw a bunch of things in a cup; he carefully selects the perfect combination of ingredients that render the gazoz a harmonious, magical drink.
I got to try three varieties – apricot, plum, and mango, mixed in with his special "friends" (fresh herbs). The refreshing drinks are fizzy like soda but mild, sweet and not overbearing. I had never tasted anything like this before. The Gazoz dates back to the beginnings of Tel Aviv, when in 1910 the first kiosk on Rothschild Boulevard sold a syrup and soda concoction. Benny is upping the ante on this drink, claiming that his shop is the only one of its kind.
His favorite part about working in Levinsky market is that it’s “the most beautiful neighborhood in Tel Aviv.” Located in the hipster capital of the city, “it’s the only neighborhood in Tel Aviv where you can find 2-year-old shops next to 50-year-old shops.”
Café Levinsky 41 is a must in Tel Aviv for the beverages (including excellent coffee), and its unique embodiment in a shop of Tel Aviv's vibrant energy. Don’t miss this spot for a gazoz experience of your own – I can assure you that you can’t get one anywhere else.