A large bottle of cloudy yellow alcohol is carefully placed down on a wooden bistro table in Downtown Haifa. The bottle features a simple black and white label that reads 'pure happiness', among a list of vague ingredients and other relevant information. The bottle is not plopped down haphazardly, but rather placed in the kind of gentle manner that can only come from someone who appreciates the time and effort that went into producing their craft.
The bottle is Tubi 60, an Israeli spirit made in the bay city of Haifa. It seemingly came out of nowhere, and took the Tel Aviv party scene by storm back in 2013. The man is Hilal Tubi, one of the two mastermind brothers behind the wildly popular liquor that inspired the cult-like following from the get-go, the novelty of which has not yet worn-off.
Tubi’s brand has been cloaked in mystery, rife with misinformed whispers and flashy myths made-up in desperation, as a result of his shying away from the spotlight, and perhaps ignoring a few important phone calls. But, according to Hilal, Tubi 60 belongs to the community of loyal customers and friends who support it, as much as it does him. Like most successful brands, his comes from the inside-out. He sells an experience more than a product, and the Tubi generation perpetuates that.
Now, as they prepare to release Tubi 60 on the international market, the little Israeli drink that could, will be available for purchase in the States (it is already on liquor store shelves in Texas, and will be available in New York from March 1st and online nationwide starting mid-March 2017). It is the answered prayer of every Birthright kid who spent their nights in Israel with the drink by their side.
Time Out was fortunate to get the exclusive first-ever interview with the informal hoodie-clad alcohol mogul on the eve of Tubi's major expansion. Without further ado, the real story behind the brand, the man and the seductive libation itself.
According to you, there have been lots of rumors and made-up stories published about the origin of the drink. Tell us how Tubi 60 really came to be.
There's a story that I was late to a party and needed to bring something to drink, so I created the drink on the go, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A lot of planning went into making Tubi. My brother and I spend a lot of time, studying, consulting with master distillers, and fine-tuning the taste and effect we were aiming for in the product, before we came up with our final formula.
How did Tubi become so popular so fast, and where did your loyal following come from?
This is something that just kind of happened naturally. We started off very small. At first I was just making the alcohol for me and my close circle of friends, but then word got out to friends of friends, and that’s when people started going to bars and demanding that they carry Tubi. Today, 95% of the bars and clubs that stock Tubi do so because people went and asked them to do so. This is very rare, and we are super grateful to have been able to reach an audience who cares so deeply about our product. Tubi is as much theirs as it is ours, and it is fitting, as we did create a product that we hoped and wished everyone would like.
There is talk about Tubi being a hallucinogenic, like Absinthe. What is in the drink?
Well, I can’t tell you everything, but I can tell you that our drink is approved by the Ministry of Health, and the FDA, and certainly does NOT have any hallucinogenic properties in it. It is an herbal liquor that features lemon, citrus, ginger, and herbs and spices such as mint and cumin.
How do you personally take your Tubi?
It varies on the situation. On a hot summer's day, it is great mixed with mango or pineapple juice. In the winter it can be added to a cup of hot tea, with cinnamon sticks and honey. You can also just take a shot, drink it over ice or mix it with tonic, but lately, I have taken to mixing it with my other favorite drink, Coke Zero.
I have heard that Tubi doesn’t cause a hangover the day after, is this true?
I find this to be true, and it is a testament to the high quality of our product. All of our ingredients are all-natural, and the drink is produced in small batches with great care. This translates to the drink itself, and the feeling it gives you while drinking, as well as the next day.
What message do you want to relay to your fans who are eagerly awaiting the drink's arrival in the States?
Stay strong, we’re coming, thank you for your support, and we love you so much. This positivity seems to be a central theme of Tubi – the brand, the liquor, and the people who make it.