• beyoglu anonymous

    March 28th, 2013

    1S0A4632

    The most talented people in any profession don’t need to advertise. In fact, advertising or drawing undue attention often does more harm than good. If you not only know your trade, but have mastered it, your reputation will be more than enough. Last night I checked out a bar in Beyoglu that doesn’t even have a name. It doesn’t need one. Most people will probably end up calling it Alex’s Bar, as its proprietor, and his personality, are the driving force behind the experience. Not only is Alex a man who knows his drinks, he’s a man unafraid to refuse an order if he feels he can’t prepare it to his professional satisfaction. He’s not about to make a mojito out of season, especially if he doesn’t have the proper mint to create it. He will also mix single malt whisky as he puts it to, “Simultaneously defy ridiculous convention as well as perfect a fine drink.”

    I won’t use euphemisms like cozy or intimate to describe the bar. It’s small. It’s tucked away in a little alley down at the Tünel end of Istiklal Caddesi. That, it seems to me, is part of the recipe. A good drink isn’t something to be quaffed in a corner with booming music and a vast crowd, but something to be enjoyed and shared. And part of the enjoyment is conversing with the no-bullshit artisan behind it. In fact, that’s key to the alchemy. If you’re in Beyoglu and you want a proper after work cocktail or aperitif, look for the place with the covered windows and dapperly dressed, likely bearded gentlemen behind the bar at number 7b Gonül Sokak from Tuesday to Saturday sometime after 5pm.

    1S0A4634

  • Getting behind the bar

    November 29th, 2012
    It’s been busy, busy, busy  for me since my return to Istanbul. I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to devote to the blog. However, I’ve been having a lot of fun working to help the gang at the Bosphorus Brewing Co get things going with their website, writing, shooting and occasionally being used as a “beer test dummy!” — Phil the brewmaster’s words, not mine. Anyway, even though I haven’t had as much time to hit the streets, it’s been a pleasure to interact with everyone here because one thing this place doesn’t lack is personality. Whether it’s out on the floor, or in the kitchen this place is bursting with flavour. Here’s a taste of who and what I’ve been working with over the last week or so, as well as what you’re missing if you haven’t paid this place a visit yet. BTW: there’s some nice dark beer/stout and new IPA on tap but the special brews are going fast. So if you’re lover of real beer, get behind the Bosphorus Brewing Co.
     
     
     
    TÜRKÇE: (+90) 0212 274 87 13 / ENGLISH: (+90) 0212 288 64 99
    info@bosphorus-brewing.com

  • Sefahathane: thickening the Beyoglu atmosphere.

    February 24th, 2012

    YOU NEVER KNOW WHO’S BEEN HERE.

    A night out doesn’t have to be big, or glitzy to be fun. All you need is a good corner to perch, and the right company. In fact, it seems to me that big places, with lots of money splashed out on the decor often find themselves thin on that thing you just can’t generate artificially — atmosphere. It’s there, or it isn’t.

    In Beyoglu’s Atlas Pasaji — about 150 meters from the gate of Galatasary Lisessi, if you’re walking towards Taksim — is Sefahathane, one of my favorite night spots. In the columned space between Atlas Sinema‘s box office and the stair to its large theatre is one my favorite spots in the world. It’s one of those spaces that defy the need to be big on anything but atmosphere. Like Torino Express in Beirut, or the Manx Pub where I grew up, these narrow spaces contain a mood that’s never artificial. Perhaps it’s the fact that the servers and the management don’t expend a lot of effort trying to be ‘cool.’ They just are.

    THE BAR STAFF: LOTS OF ATTITUDE. ZERO PRETENSE.

    I’ve been visiting this spot on and off since I first came to the city, almost seven years, but it’s been here longer, some 20 years, long before Beyoglu’s revival as the city’s entertainment district. And now it’s got some new management. Selim Güsar, a regular patron of the establishment since its inception has just recently taken over the lease and is introducing some new ideas, involving live music and entertainment, such as percussionists and piano players who will work in step with the talent at the turntables. Güsar and partners are no strangers to the world of music, and unlike many ambitious new managers with big dreams, they seem to me more likely to thicken the bar’s atmosphere, rather than thin it out. After all, they’ve been part of the scene for 20 years.

    PIANO PLAYER AND SINGER STEAL PHOTOGRAPHER’S HAT, LOSE THEMSELVES IN THE MOMENT.

    SEFAHATHANE OPENED ON THE BEYOGLU BAR SCENE 20 YEARS AGO.

    No matter what, if you’re in the neighborhood, want a drink and a snug corner to wedge yourself in for the evening, I suggest you pop in. The night tends to start mellow and then suddenly, out of nowhere, it seems the place is jammed to the rafters. Perhaps that’s because it’s also got something else you can’t fake in the fickle world of nightlife. History.

    Maybe it’ll become part of yours.

    THE NEW MANAGEMENT, A PATRON WITH HISTORY: SELIM GÜSAR.