Haji Zbala juice shop is the oldest juice shop on Baghdad’s historic road — Al Rasheed Street. They’re serving up fresh-pressed grape juice for generations, since 1900, to rulers, dictators, generals and even insurgents besides common Iraqis and foreigners. The juice is made from dried grapes that’s said to heal all kinds of ills.
As per wbur, Saddam Hussein came into the shop once in 1990, when the Arab League summit was in Baghdad. Other visitors include Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Wild grapes were first gathered by some of the earliest civilizations during the Neolithic era from 6500-6000 BCE in Southern Caucasia, known today as northwest Turkey and northern Iraq. The earliest evidence of winemaking has been traced back 8,000 years to Georgia. Neolithic pottery shards were found to contain grape wine residue from 6000-5800 BCE. Prior to this, the earliest evidence for grape cultivation and wine production were discovered in the Zagros Mountains, the largest mountain range in Iran, Iraq and southeastern Turkey, dating to 5400-5000 BCE.
In this morning, I had a glass of grape juice in this famous shop. You get a flavour of history in each sip along with the sweetness of the grapes. Haji gets his supply of grapes from the mountains of North Iraq.
The building is in traditional Iraqi “shanasheel” style, with wooden lattices on the second floor. Sadly, it is now in a state of disrepair.
Shanasheel is the Arabic term given to a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second storey of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. Shanasheels are prevalent in Iraq, the Levant, Hejaz and Egypt. The earliest evidence on use of the shanasheel dates back to the 12th century in Baghdad during the Abbasid period.