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.