Imagine walking up to a hotel reception desk reminiscent of The Grand Budapest Hotel. The concierge dials a number, hangs up, and as if by magic, the door you barely noticed when you first entered the building swings open and a dapper host gestures you inside.
You step into the jazz age: swing music plays fervently from every corner of the bar, bird cages swing by with burgers inside and you nearly trip over a pram filled with oyster shells on ice.
And just when you think things can't get any quirkier, the host escorts you past this alternate universe you've just entered to a hidden door masked as a bookshelf of sorts. Waiting on the other side: a secret passageway into yet another alternate universe (a parallel universe as Leizgold describes it). Only this time, you've traveled more than a century beyond the 1920s into the Victorian era.
The quaint one-room bar nestled inside Bellboy is a visual orgasm – the animal-print walls are adorned with period pieces like paintings, key holders and other gems. Mason jars filled with octopi, squids, brains and other organs add a little extra "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" feel to the Victorian ambiance; an old rotary dial sits promptly at one end of the bar, mixology mastermind Ariel Leizgold at the other.
Leizgold, Time Out's 2016 Best Bartender and the man behind 223 and Bellboy, tastes a cocktail whipped up by a bartender, Guy Avner. They are giving the brand new menu its last finishing touches. While Bellboy adorns their cocktails with crazy serving vessels and magic tricks, Butler shines the spotlight on the cocktail itself – no hooty tooty aesthetics, just unbelievable combinations in simple, uniform glasses.
Even the menu is an adventure. Its sleek black cover mimics Leizgold's intentions with Butler: simplicity. After reading over the "house rules" with the aid of a magnifying glass, I was most intrigued by number 5) No evaluating the quality of our bartender's Japanese hard shake – a nonsensical rule which was quickly comprehended after ordering the first round of cocktails.
Standouts were the "Coffee Cocktail," which tastes exactly like coffee, but does not have a drop of espresso in it, and the "Aviation," which takes a classic gin cocktail, and infuses it with subtle notes of lemon and violet.
When a guest asks Leizgold his inspiration behind this new hidden gem within a hidden gem, he responds, "Butler is Bellboy's non-identical twin. While Bellboy has all the power and loud energy, Butler brings sweetness and charm to the forefront."
After a surreal night of being waited on by men in suspenders and black bowties, learning the art of the Japanese shake, and making drunk munch classy with a porcelain platter of Victorian finger sandwiches to match Butler's atmosphere to a T(ea), it was difficult to fast-forward through time to the reality of Rothschild Boulevard on a bustling weekend night.
You'll dream of your next visit to Butler before even leaving. You may even question if it was all a dream to begin with; if such a magical place could exist. Guess you'll just have to return and see...
Hotel B Berdichevsky, 14 Berdichevsky St, Tel Aviv (03-7289213)Share the story