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Fruit juice envy

March 22nd, 2009 · 14 Comments · Culture

Damascus has the best fruit juice in the world.

The orange is sweet to perfection. The lemon and mint tangy like nothing else. Delicate strawberry. Satisfying banana, milk and chocolate. And then there’s the cocktail.

The fruit juice is probably the single thing many Damascenes miss the most when they’re away from home.

Ask a Damascene which is the best place to try these concoctions, and they’ll probably say Abu Abdu or Abu Shaker. Their support for these places is intense – like a football supporter arguing over Arsenal and Manchester United.

I fly the Abu Shaker flag. Their cocktail is made to a secret recipe (the photo is below) and costs 50 lira. It opened in 1953, just a few years before Gamal Abdul Nasser became president – not just of Egypt but also Syria (during their short lived union). Inside, there is a photo of Abu Shaker meeting Nasser.

Abu Abdu has the advantage of outdoor seating. While Abu Shaker opened a shiny new indoor cafe five years ago – although this is only if you’re having a fruit salad (well, I say fruit, it’s fruit with heaps of cream and chocolate).

You can find Abu Shaker behind Benetton on Salhiyeh, near the Muhafaza. And Abu Abdu is at the other end of Salhiyeh – just before Arnous.


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14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jabi // Mar 22, 2009 at 2.14 pm

    Abu 3abdo all the way man! lol Their Emperor “imbrator” .. Good God.. that thing is the main reason for heart strokes and related heart diseases..

    I just find it amazing how its packed at abu abdu’s, where people are struggling to get their orders, while right next to it there is another juice shop that is literally empty.. i dont even know what its called lol..

  • 2 Yazan // Mar 22, 2009 at 3.20 pm

    I fly the Abu shaker flag myself.

    But, in 1953 Nasser wasn’t even president of Egypt yet 😉

  • 3 Katia // Mar 23, 2009 at 12.11 am

    Yes, yes and yes again! I’m a fan!

    I try almost every fruit juice bar I come across in the hope of finding something similar to the Damascene juices but it’s just hopeless. I guess I’ll have to travel to get a decent drink 😉

  • 4 Joshua Landis // Mar 24, 2009 at 2.36 pm

    I have to go with Abu 3abdu as well. Their Mu3sassal is out of this world – cream and honey til you die, with just the right amount of banana blended in. How many midnight runs were made to Abu 3abdu’s ?

  • 5 Sasa // Mar 26, 2009 at 11.59 pm

    Thanks for pointing out the Nasser date error!! I’ve corrected it.

    Jabi – same thing at Abu Shaker, there’s a place next door which sells juice, I feel so sorry for them.

    Yazan – we may disagree on politics, but at least juice unites us. We can disagree in the same place at least!

    Katia – only Damascenes know how to make good juice, and felafel. Time to come back!

    And Josh, oh the Muassal does sound fairly amazing. I normally stick to mowz wa haleeb in Abu Abdu because I don’t like their cocktail. I need to be more adventurous! I’ll give you an update!

    I still remember the first time I walked up to Abu Shaker’s hole in the wall. It was in the days before the glitzy cafe was open, and it was late at night – they were just about to close. We bought a bottle of cocktail and had a glass there. I had never tasted anything like it.

    I took a couple of bottles to London once. Syria bottled! I gave it to some people who’d never been to Syria. The looks on their faces were priceless – they said they had never tasted fruit so full of flavour. If that’s not a good advert for Damascus, I don’t know what is!

  • 6 Anas // Mar 29, 2009 at 1.44 pm

    OLE OLE OLE OLE ! Abu Shaker! OLE!

    My favorite ever, I was supposed to take Jillian York (http://jilliancyork.com/) there during her short visit to Syria but alas! we ran out of time and didn’t do it.. I feel we both regret it more than not going to Palmyra!

    Salam

  • 7 jilliancyork // Mar 29, 2009 at 3.26 pm

    Epic juice fail, indeed. Oh well, guess someone will have to start an exports company, huh?

  • 8 Sasa // Mar 29, 2009 at 3.30 pm

    I want to open an Abu Shaker London branch. We’ll have to import the Syrian fruit of course. We’ll only play Soapkills, Katibeh Khamse, Kulna Sawa, Nancy and Elissa. Who’s with me?!

  • 9 Anas // Mar 29, 2009 at 4.01 pm

    Nancy and Elissa? seriously! don’t make me go to Abo Abdou!!

  • 10 Sasa // Mar 29, 2009 at 4.04 pm

    Haha! Ok, especially for you, some Fairouz!

  • 11 Global Voices Online » Syria: Fruit Juice Envy // Mar 29, 2009 at 4.21 pm

    […] from Syria News Wire says Syria has the best fruit juice in the world. Cancel this […]

  • 12 Global Voices in Italiano » Siria: voglia di spremute fresche // Mar 30, 2009 at 7.37 am

    […] c’è il profumo delicato della fragola, la banana, il latte col cioccolato, e infine il cocktail! Sasa [in] ci parla di questa tradizione locale che ha sostenitori fedeli al pari di una squadra di […]

  • 13 butterscotch // Jan 14, 2010 at 12.30 am

    i was in Damascus last weekend and had several juices in Abu Shaker. Can anyone tell me what the creamy dairy product is they put on top of the juice (under the cream).

  • 14 Sasa // Jan 14, 2010 at 11.20 pm

    I think it’s condensed milk.

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