Eden Caplan: Jerusalem’s master bartender – interview

Anyone who walks along Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road on Thursday nights might be familiar with Eden Caplan.

In a city home to many different bars catering to a wide range of clientele, Eden is the face behind the HaGoren bar – one of the city’s most recognizable drinking establishments for the English-speaking crowd.

HaGoren is a classy place, as well as a personal favorite among many Jerusalem Post staffers past and present. It has a cozy and mature atmosphere where you can enjoy close conversations with friends and maybe even get sage advice from a bartender. And that bartender is none other than Caplan, who also serves as the manager.

The bar is located on Rivlin Street just off Jaffa Road, right next to another iconic watering hole for Anglos in Jerusalem, Mike’s Place, with which it shares an owner. But HaGoren also has a unique gimmick going for it: It’s the made-in-Israel bar. All the drinks served are made exclusively with Israeli alcohol, and the music played is generally restricted to Israeli tunes.

While the life of a bartender is always busy, Caplan’s is especially so; like many young Israelis, he was called up for IDF reserve duty.

Eden Caplan (credit: Adi Mizrachi)

As he went off for his time in the reserves, In Jerusalem spoke with Caplan about his life and work in the Jerusalem nightlife.

Tell me about your early years.

I’m a Jerusalemite, born and bred. I’m from the Arnona neighborhood.

How did you get into bartending?

I’ve been bartending for two and a half years at HaGoren. When I finished my IDF [regular] service, I took a bartending course at Zman Amiti bartending school. After that, I started working at HaGoren.

What are some of the perks of the job?

I love the people. As much as customer service is hard, I love when people leave the bar smiling. I like getting to meet people from all over the world.

In addition, serving and mixing drinks is something I really enjoy doing and learning about.

What makes HaGoren stand out from the many bars of Jerusalem?

HaGoren has a very cool and unique concept – we serve only local alcohol. From beers and wine to whiskeys, gins, rums, liqueurs, and more, all of our drinks are made exclusively with Israeli alcohol.

That being said, it is somewhat of a challenge matching the taste profiles of drinks for some classic cocktails, or being able to substitute for people’s preference or set drinks. [Author’s note: In Jerusalem can confirm that Caplan is not only very good at making delicious and enjoyable cocktails but also mocktails for those who can’t drink alcohol.]

I enjoy showing off what Israel has to offer and talking to customers about every bottle in the bar.

Where can people find you and HaGoren on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram at @sir_mix.alot and the bar at @hagore.jlm. Facebook for the bar is HaGoren – local spirit.■