Top 20 Cocktail Bars in Milano by shane eaton

Compiling a list of the Top 20 cocktail bars in Milano is not easy. First, if you wanna do it right, you have to visit every single cocktail bar in Milano. Of course this is impossible even for me, so I rely on the sage advice of my trusted cocktail lover friends to come up with a short list of 50 or so reasonable bars in the city. Then of course there’s the cost, not only to my poor wallet, but to my liver!

After my first ranking released in October, people suggested I reformat the list to consider one important detail - the price!

As such, I’ve come up with two lists - the 10 best “High end” bars (cocktails €12 or more) and the 10 best “Everyday” bars (drinks €11 or less). Of course it was hard to come up with a top 10 given the sheer quantity of great bars in the city. Honorable mentions go to Officina, Dhole, Nottingham Forest, Raboucer, Botanical 3 and Drinc. These bars could well appear on the next iteration of this article.

I also include the criteria I use to judge a bar, namely:

  • location (neighborhood and ease of access with public transit)

  • atmosphere (decor and mood)

  • service (friendliness and efficiency)

  • team (the depth, skill and likability of the bartenders)

  • presentation (Cocktail Art worthy cocktails?)

  • taste (cocktail taste according to my palate)

  • ice (clear, pretty ice of different eye pleasing shapes)

Top 10 High End bars

1. 1930

location 8.5/10, atmosphere 10/10, service 9/10, team 9/10, presentation 10/10, taste 9/10, ice 10/10 - overall 9.4/10 (€12-€15)

1930 is no longer a secret but that doesn't hold it back from being the best bar in East Milano. The antique furniture, romantic lighting, eye-catching bar counter and friendly and talented barmen continue to push this bar forward, with 1930 now receiving international acclaim with guest bars shifts at 28 HongKong St, El Copitas and El Paradiso. To gain access to this secret bar, you must first get to know the guys at MAG, the sister bar of 1930. If you're lucky, you'll be given a one time invitation. If you're even more lucky you'll eventually receive the membership card, an honor bestowed upon regular visitors who demonstrate a true passion for the bar, cocktails and life in general. With owner and creative leader Marco Russo, bar manager Benjamin “Ullalla” Cavagna and senior bartender Gabriele Calise, 1930 is now a well-oiled machine, recently making 80th spot on the coveted World’s 50 Best Bars list.

Beyond the mesmerizing ambiance at the 1930 secret cocktail bar, the cocktails are superb, with the current list being the best since the speakeasy's conception 4 years ago. My favorite is The Mountain with Farmily 2016, Honey Alpe, Alpine Freshness, Beeswax, Peychaud’s bitters and Absinthe. The best signature is the Lighthouse of Scoltand (Faro di Scozia) which has Laphroaig quarter cask, sea water, distilled earth, stout and vanilla, milk, aromatic bitters. It is the closest cocktail to liquid gold. 

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2. OCTAVIUS

location 9.5/10, atmosphere 10/10, service 9.5/10, team 9/10, presentation 8.5/10, taste 9/10, ice 9.5/10 - overall 9.3/10 (€15-€18)

Octavius is the slick cocktail bar next to the The Stage Restaurant in Piazza Gae Aulenti. The Stage has a beautiful interior design, which mimics the interior of a luxury yacht. Architects Roman and Williams clad the walls in tambour wood panels which together with the mahogany ceiling make you feel like you're in the belly of a boat. The adjacent Octavius bar can be spotted through the porthole windows, with similar wood surroundings and warm color tones and lighting. The beautiful stainless and brass bar counter is the highlight, where Francesco Cione mans the crew of talented young bartenders like Sossio Del Prete, Gabriele Tammaro and Nicolò Scelsi.

Although you pay more than MaG cafe or Carlo e Camilla for a drink, the sexy environment and solid drinks are worth the price of admission. Octavius is my top choice for Northern Milano!

Sossio making a Michter’s Old Fashioned; These are a few of my favorite things.

Sossio making a Michter’s Old Fashioned; These are a few of my favorite things.

3. MANDARIN ORIENTAL

location 8/10, atmosphere 9.5/10, service 10/10, team 10/10, presentation 9/10, taste 9/10, ice 9/10 - overall 9.2/10 (€20)

The Mandarin Oriental Milano is one of the sexiest hotel bars in the world and offers one of the best cocktail lists around, thanks to bar manager Teo Rizzolo (ex-Nottingham Forest and 1930).

For more delicate palates, try the refreshing Mo-Re Pear. Featuring Absolut Elyx vodka, grapefruit juice, pear syrup and raspberry foam and served in a spectacular drinking receptacle! Teo has many of his glasses custom made, adding to the unique experience at the Mandarin Oriental.

One of the best Martinis in the city is the Laverstocke Mill Martini, presented in a beautiful custom designed glass with Star of Bombay gin, Noilly Prat vermouth infused with Bergamot and tonka bean.

The beautiful bar counter at the Mandarin Oriental

The beautiful bar counter at the Mandarin Oriental

4. THE YARD

location 9/10, atmosphere 10/10, service 9/10, team 8/10, presentation 8/10, taste 9/10, ice 7/10 - overall 8.6/10 (€12-€20)

Arguably the most beautiful bar in Milano, the Yard Hotel features peculiar but eye pleasing decorations and furniture. Taking over as Food and Bar manager is the best host in Italy, Mr. Francesco Galdi. With Tucci is the senior bartender, also managing duties at the new secretive pizza and dumpling speakeasy. Under Galdi’s helm, I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Yard, including the speakeasy and the adjacent Dirty Gym pizzeria.

Gioia behind the stick; Mister Shane cocktail

Gioia behind the stick; Mister Shane cocktail

5. BACKDOOR 43

location 9/10, atmosphere 9/10, service 9/10, team 8/10, presentation 8/10, taste 9/10, ice 7/10 - overall 8.4/10 (€12)

The flagship bar of the MaG family 1930 cocktail bar is an exceptional venue but without a membership card, you can not enter. And so the guys from MaG decided to create BackDoor43, a speakeasy in which you have to book in advance, not because they want to frustrate you, but because its the smallest bar in the world! The brilliant part of this bar is that it also offers a takeaway service, where you can choose from the MaG's most requested drinks. The new menu is odd but brilliant: the customer roles some dice and then must come up with a story based on the symbols rolled, upon which the bartender designs the drink. It inspires a unique and often hilarious conversation, bridging the gap between bartender and customer like no other menu in the world.

The new dice menu with Sophia posing for a bottle of Luxardo

The new dice menu with Sophia posing for a bottle of Luxardo

6. CERESIO 7

location 6/10, atmosphere 9.5/10, service 9.5/10, team 9/10, presentation 8/10, taste 8/10, ice 8/10 - overall 8.3/10 (€17+)

Imagine drinking a perfectly balanced Old Fashioned inside a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by the hottest girls in Milano. Well sadly you can't actually get in the pool but my hope is that one day Guglielmo Miriello will make my dream come true. Ceresio is one of most glamorous bars in Milano, and the favorite bar of many. A must visit on a cocktail bar tour of the city. Poolside photo by Flavia Arditi of Flawless Milano.

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7. TALEA

location 5/10, atmosphere 9/10, service 10/10, team 9.5/10, presentation 9.5/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 8.1/10 (€15)

TALEA is extremely ambitious, with Filippo Sisti aiming to give his customers a memorable experience akin to what they'd expect at a Michelin star restaurant. To achieve this difficult feat, TALEA brings together world class hospitality (Petra Dolci, ex Carlo e Camilla handles the floor), a captivating ambiance, and some truly wild yet enjoyable cocktails. His drinks are completely original and he has taken his liquid kitchen concept above and beyond what he was doing at Carlo e Camilla. Amazingly, his team have developed nearly 200 preparations for their initial list - good luck copying his drinks! Filippo's bar team is made up young talents Federico Lombardi and Simone De Angelis whom he intentionally chose because they weren't familiar to most. In this way, customers can more easily become captivated by the overall experience at TALEA: the cool colors of the walls and backbar, the comfortable chairs, and the cocktail eye candy. One of Filippo's goals is to challenge the preconceptions of his guests, serving his drinks seasonally but in reverse: until December using winter ingredients and after December using summer ingredients.

A great fresh and sour drink from the list is El Choncho with gin, peach water, pineapple tepache, carot leaf liqueur and chutney of fermented fruit. My favorite drink on the list is the herbaceous and nutty Saving Grace with tonic cordial with aromatic herbs, fenugreek liqueur, blended scotch whisky, lemon and a bouquet of wild herbs.

The talent and passion of Filippo Sisti will leave you in awe, as will his wondrous yet accessible drink list that evoke new and gratifying emotions. Check out the recently launched Vivarium "Chef's Table" set to launch in September, serving a 90-minute tasting menu consisting of 5 cocktails paired with food dishes.

El Choncho and Saving Grace

El Choncho and Saving Grace

8. CASA MIA

location 10/10, atmosphere 7/10, service 9.5/10, team 8/10, presentation 7/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.9/10 (€10-€15)

Casa Mia is a cozy cocktail lounge in Viale Regina Giovanna run by the friendly team of owners Luigi Ferrario and Amanita Toktok and bartender Manuel Quintiero. From the sweetheart staff to the comfortable couch perfect for meditating over a Manhattan, every element of Casa Mia will make you feel like you're at home. The most special place at Casa Mia is the tucked away bar counter, where in addition to being surrounded many high-end bottles, you'll get to mingle with the friendly habitués and industry people that frequent the bar.  Other than Manuel’s great Spaghetti Western features mezcal, agave syrup, tonic water infused with tomato, tabasco, taco rim, ask for the Negroni Draft, a very important drink dedicated to the memory of Matteo Mevio.

Negroni draft

Negroni draft

9. THE SPIRIT

location 8/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 8/10, team 8/10, presentation 8/10, taste 7.5/10, ice 8/10 - overall 7.9/10 (€15)

The Spirit is a slick cocktail bar in Porta Romana. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the bar is the porthole window at the entrance, an irresistible invitation to find out what is hidden inside the bar. It's a brilliant idea, even if it could be exploited by paparazzi to spy on people inside.

As you enter you will see the handsome bar team of Carletto Simbula, Vincenzo Losappio and Jacopo Castronovo. A beautiful detail of the bar is the luxurious mahogany bar counter. From the most comfortable bar stool in Milano, you will see beautiful mirrors everywhere, a matrix of lights on the ceiling and the more private area in the back of the bar. The Spirit oozes romance.

The Spirit's drinks are very good, albeit a bit pricey at € 15. From the previous menu, I really enjoyed North West Trip, a reinterpreted Boulevardier with Liquore delle Sirene, Crown Royal whiskey, Linie Aquavit, Cocchi Storico Vermouth, Gonzalez Byass Sherry Palo Cortado, Orange and mandarine bitters.

North West Trip; Agnese at The Spirit entrance

North West Trip; Agnese at The Spirit entrance

10. SURFER'S DEN

location 4/10, atmosphere 9/10, service 9/10, team 9/10, presentation 7.5/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.5/10 (€11-€16)

Yuri Gelmini and Irene Bottura have just launched the Winter 2019 menu at Surfer’s Den called Piantala, which means “plant it” in Italian, but more commonly “shut up!”

Yuri of course isn’t asking us to be quiet, but suggests that we can learn something from plants, once again protagonists on the menu. In this clever menu, which is actually a game, you roll dice to see which of the 12 drinks you will consume. For each drink, you get a stamp. If you collect them all, you get a special pass which unlocks the mystery drink and you will have the privilege to order it whenever you visit. However, if you let someone else use your pass or let your buddy take a sip of the drink, your privilege will be immediately revoked.

The menu was designed by Bianca Maria Fiorentino with Valeria Cardea contributing the beautiful text to accompany the drinks. Here we find ourselves learning from plants, in particular, in how they can solve every day problems such as bypassing lineups at the grocery store or strategies for efficiently cleaning your house. I had the good fortune of translating Valeria’s brilliant words to English.

The highlight of the menu is Pomi D’Ottone e Manici di Scopa with Opihr gin, Amara Rossa, Lemon juice, Mango Chutney and a Curry rim. Take a sip first from the clean side of the rim, and then from the curry rim side. You will be blown away by the difference the curry can make, which creates a perfect balance to this cocktail with oriental spicy notes.

Menu at Surfer’s den

Menu at Surfer’s den


Top 10 Everyday bars

1. CAMPARINO

location 10/10, atmosphere 9/10, service 9/10, team 9/10, presentation 7/10, taste 8/10, ice 7/10 - overall 8.4/10 (€10)

In 1860, in a small bar in Novara, Gaspare Campari first invented the recipe to Campari, the iconic Italian bitter. In 1862, Gaspare moved to the historic Camparino in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to launch his brand in Milano and then to the world. The service is always impeccable thanks to a strong team lead by Tommaso Cecca.

Order a Campari or Zucca Shakerato, the drinks of choice of world travelling bartender Zdenek Kastanek. In the Duomo area, Camparino is a daily ritual for the business crowd, who take an after-lunch espresso up at the beautiful bar counter, or enjoy a cocktail just before dinner at one of the tables.

Campari Shakerato at Camparino (photos Toney Teddy Fernandez)

Campari Shakerato at Camparino (photos Toney Teddy Fernandez)

2. RITA

location 9/10, atmosphere 9/10, service 8/10, team 8/10, presentation 7/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.9/10 (€10)

Before Luca and Andrea, before MaG, there was Rita, born in 2002 in Via Fumagalli 1. The secret of its success? Refreshing cocktails, natural ingredients, always top quality products. The perfect spot to sit is at the counter, so you can admire the splendor of the majestic bottles and the other customers sitting around the sociable U-shaped bar counter. There is a feeling of serenity in Rita, despite the chaos of the Milanese aperitif.

The signature drink is the Gin Zen with ginger, gin, lime, cordial lime, soda, crushed ice and is fresh, sour and refreshing and a great start for the summer evening. If you have the good fortune of meeting the owner Edo Nono, you will understand what Pier Strazzeri means when he says "When I grow up, I want to be like Edo".

Leo Todisco (ex Lacerba) is the head bartender and is joined by Simone and Niccolò, who always deliver you a great drink with a smile. Don't forget the food at Rita, which is delicious thanks to chef and co-owner Luca Chiaruttini, the other owner of the bar. I suggest the delicious Coca-Cola chicken wings.

Edo with his favorite  Martini cocktail

Edo with his favorite Martini cocktail

3. MAG CAFE

location 9/10, atmosphere 9/10, service 7/10, team 9/10, presentation 7/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.9/10 (€10)

When you visit the Mag in Ripa di Porta Ticinese 43 there is the feeling of entering a Parisian café in Montmartre. The bar is decorated with great taste with hundreds of items purchased at antique markets. The bar is dimly lit, giving Mag an intimate and relaxing atmosphere. In addition to the head Flavio Angiolillo, the bar team features the talented Francesco Bonazzi and Marianna Di Leo. Thanks to these names and an enchanting atmosphere, MaG always remains a reference point for drinking in the city. The latest drink theme involves MAG currency, which customers receive when they purchase a drink. It’s fun to collect the MaG money, with bank notes featuring the various staff members. Eventually you can trade the money in for free drinks, bar accessories or even a date with Flavio! MAG continues its tradition of the most creative menus in the city.

Head bartender Marianna; Mag money

Head bartender Marianna; Mag money

4. BOB

location 8/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 9/10, team 8/10, presentation 8/10, taste 7/10, ice 7/10 - overall 7.9/10 (€10)

Luca of Chinese box fame has recently opened BOB, a sexy Chinese-Italian fusion restaurant bar in Isola. Although the outstanding bao and dumplings are the highlight of BOB, the cocktail game is also strong thanks to Lucian and Cesar, who deliver tasty concoctions with impeccable style. Don’t miss out on the spicy and smokey Los Cuatrocientos Conejos.

Italian-Fusion dumplings; Los Cuatrocientos Conejos.

Italian-Fusion dumplings; Los Cuatrocientos Conejos.

5. BOTANICAL CLUB Pastrengo

location 7/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 7/10, team 8/10, presentation 8/10, taste 8/10, ice 9/10 - overall 7.7/10 (€10)

Botanical Club caught everyone's attention 3 years ago when it first opened, being the first bar to distill its own gin called Spleen et Ideal with 8 botanicals (juniper, angelica, coriander, green cardamom, rosebuds, iris, lime peel, mandarin peel). Entering the bar in the trendy Isola district, I was immediately impressed with the slick bar area and good looking customers. From the new drink list, try the 48, a name inspired by the first war of independence in Pastrengo in 1848. It features Spleen et ideal gin, lime juice, lemongrass syrup, plum bitters and organic champagne.

Mattia with Hepple Gin Martini Cocktail and Tuxedo Cocktail

Mattia with Hepple Gin Martini Cocktail and Tuxedo Cocktail

6. REBELOT

location 9/10, atmosphere 7/10, service 7/10, team 8/10, presentation 8/10, taste 8/10, ice 7/10 - overall 7.7/10 (€10)

Rebelot was born as the spin off tapas bar of Al Pont de Ferr but Luca Vezzali and Erica have recently taken over management, transforming it into a more traditional restaurant with an excellent cocktail program. The cocktail menu has 12 drinks, grouped under Modern Aperitivo, Soda-based, Classics and Gastro. The best I've tried was Cameron's Kick with Irish whiskey, single malt scotch, pear, almond, fino sherry, and black cardamom. Dreaming Pantelleria is a great negroni with a foam of almond milk. For food dishes, I suggest the cold cuts and heavenly pasta alla Norma.

Cameron's Kick and Dreaming Pantelleria

Cameron's Kick and Dreaming Pantelleria

7. BOTANICAL CLUB

location 6/10, atmosphere 7/10, service 7/10, team 8/10, presentation 8/10, taste 8/10, ice 9/10 - overall 7.6/10 (€10)

My first trip to the Isola location of Botanical was memorable and I was lucky to run into Mattia Capezzuoli managing the bar program at Botanical Tortona.  In addition to excellent cocktails with beautiful ice thanks to an in-house Hoshizaki, you can try some outstanding raw fish at Botanical. Not to be missed is the best poke salad in the city.

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8. PINCH

location 9/10, atmosphere 7/10, service 7/10, team 7/10, presentation 7/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.3/10 (€10)

Mattia Lissoni, decided to open up a bar with a similar formula as MAG: great drinks and cool people. As soon as you enter, the cozy atmosphere will immediately remind you of MAG, but with a British flair. If you must do the Milanese happy hour, Pinch is easily your best bet on the Navigli as they serve refreshingly original sides to go along with your drink. From the latest drink list, don't miss the flavorful Terra cocktail with scotch whisky, Japanese prune liqueur, Marsala, orange and Angostura bitters. Mercurio, a revisited whisky-based Bloody Mary is also a delight for the palate. Taking over Pinch as bar manager is the impossible not to love Erik Viola, who happens to also be one of the best bartenders in Milano.

Erik throwing; Pepper Porn cocktail

Erik throwing; Pepper Porn cocktail

9. ITER

location 8/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 8/10, team 8/10, presentation 7/10, taste 6/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.3/10 (€9)

Iter is Flavio Angiolillo's new project that is tucked away on a quiet street close to the hustle and bustle of Naviglio Grande. Iter is intimate, but spacious, thanks to its high ceilings, where the large bar wooden bar counter is the focal point. Bar stools are replaced with large, comfortable armchairs, at the perfect height to comfortably eat and drink. 

The magic of this bar is inspired by its name, which means journey in Latin. Every six months, the boys will go on a trip to a new country, bringing back the best food, liqueurs and spirits to fuse with their Italian menu, making them the first fusion cocktail bar. The latest fusion menu is with Panama, with a strong focus on drinks made with Ron Abuelo Panamá.

Idris, the head bartender at Iter; the new Panama menu

Idris, the head bartender at Iter; the new Panama menu


10.
Rotonda Bistro

location 7/10, atmosphere 7/10, service 8/10, team 8/10, presentation 7/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.3/10 (€9)

Rotonda Bistro is managed by Diego Ferrari, also of Cocktail Art fame. Because of convoluted Italian regulations, the historical building where the bar is located is restricted to serving drinks made with bottles having less than 21% ABV. Instead of throwing in the towel when faced with this incredible challenge, Diego began passionately researching low alcohol spirits, liqueurs and bitters to come up with innovative cocktails to serve to his guests, transforming Rotonda’s limitation into something unique. He is now considered a world leader in low ABV cocktails. He has recently written a book called Low Alcohol Cocktails: New Frontiers in Mixology. One example of Diego’s innovative low potency drinks is the 1848, a delicious Low ABV twist on the French 75 with 15 ml lemon, 35 ml St-Germain, 20 ml Spitz, and a top up of prosecco.

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This is My Martini by shane eaton

The martini. Elegant, clean, seductive but most of all, mystical. Today, there are thousands of variations of this cocktail and the origin of this classic is shrouded in mystery.

Some claim Professor Jerry Thomas invented the Martini. The 1887 edition of his Bartender’s Guide included the Martinez, the classic cocktail with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters and lemon twist garnish. Thomas claimed to have made the drink for the first time at San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel. One problem: that edition of the Bartenders Guide was published two years after Thomas died.

Others believe the cocktail was born from branding. Some believe the drink derived from the famous “Martini & Rossi” vermouth, first created in the mid-1800s. Apparently in the interest of brevity, the “gin and Martini” drink of the time eventually became known as the “martini.” 

The last popular theory is that the modern martini has its roots at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel where in the early 1900s, Martini di Arma di Taggia was behind the stick. He served a concoction to regular John D. Rockefeller with London dry gin, Noilly Prat Vermouth, and orange bitters. It’s possible the martini as we know it today was named after this bartending legend.

Whatever the real origin of the martini, today this classic is a favorite of many bartenders, and increasingly so of everyday customers. The popularity of the drink is following a similar boom as the Old Fashioned trend from a few years back.

In 1922 the martini was most commonly made with London dry gin and dry vermouth are combined at a ratio of 2:1, stirred in a mixing glass with ice cubes, with optional bitters, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass. The garnish has always been the drinker's choice of a green olive or a twist of lemon peel.

Over the course of the 20th century, the martini became progressively became drier, in part due to the availability of higher quality gin in the US after the end of prohibition. During the 1930s the ratio was 3:1 (gin to vermouth), and during the 1940s the ratio was 4:1. During the latter part of the 20th century, 6:1, 8:1, 12:1, 15:1 or even 50:1 Martinis became commonplace.

The traditional martini comes in an infinite number of variations. James Bond usually asked for his vodka martinis to be "shaken, not stirred", following the advice from Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). Some even argue that the martini should be made by throwing, which tends to put more accent on the vermouth in the martini. A martini can even be served on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass although I consider it personally to be sacrilege.

In our interview of Dario Comini for Drops Magazine, he had this to say about his favorite cocktail: “Both great technique and experience are needed to make a martini. Within a few seconds, you must correctly read your customer’s preferences. Then, you must artfully execute a martini well-suited to their palate. After all, we all have different tastes and ideas of what makes the perfect martini. Each martini is individual, unique, and impossible to repeat. As such, the variations of this classic cocktail are countless.“

It’s true that we all have our personal preferences for the martini cocktail. For me, it must be served bone dry and ice cold in a Nick and Nora glass. But I was curious, how do my bartender friends take their martini?

#thisismymartini

Jared Brown, Mixellany

We started by interviewing Jared Brown, who was in Milano recently for a Sipsmith master class at PRIMA comfort food and bar.

“My martini? There is no short answer. Such simplicity requires many words. 

Selecting a particular balance of ingredients is highly subjective, shaped by both internal and external forces. Not only has my preference changed over time, it changes with each hour of the day. A lunch martini differs greatly from a cocktail hour martini. An evening martini is yet again unique. 

That said, the framework for my ultimate martini—evolved over the decades since Anistatia and I wrote Shaken Not Stirred©: A Celebration of the Martini—is simple. Simple because I truly believe the words of Antoine de St. Exupery: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Gone are the orange bitters and drop of absinthe and olive and twist submerged in the liquid. I prefer a clean style that rose in popularity in the 1950s.

For the ingredients, I worked very hard as part of a great team to produce the finest possible London Dry Gin, made in London without compromise on a copper pot still and balanced to my palate. But a classic dry martini is not straight gin. It also requires vermouth. There are many wonderful choices these days, but I am at heart a traditionalist and, like the legendary Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey speakeasy fame, I prefer classic Italian dry vermouth. I prefer it to be as fresh as possible, so at home I keep dozens of mini bottles and open a fresh one for every round. 

I combine these two ingredients, the gin and dry vermouth in an ice-filled tin. I would rather throw than shake or stir as throwing imparts fine aeration that remains in suspension much longer than the large bubbles in a shaken drink. These bubbles brighten the flavour and round out the mouthfeel without clouding the drink. 

How many times you throw is dictated by the quality of the ice. Good ice takes longer, while bad ice will be very quick to chill and dilute the drink. There is no need to count throws. Watch the strainer handle shift as the ice melts. I find when it has moved about 45°, the drink has taken on the approximately 25% dilution I consider optimal for softening it and opening up the flavours. 

The twist is the moment where I find some of the greatest bartenders trip up. Running the twist around the rim and down the stem before dropping it into the drink is riveting theatre, but it detracts from the flavour of the drink. Why do bartenders continue to do this? It is because their predecessors did, and theirs before them, much like we as a species ate raw meat before we discovered fire (and later discovered restaurants and good chefs). 

The twist should be large and fresh and squeezed over the drink, to impart sweet citrus and floral aromas. It should never come in contact with the glass or the liquid. If it does, it makes the drink bitter and sharp and less pleasant. After it has been squeezed, the twist should be discarded. 

I also prefer my martinis small in a very, very cold glass. If the glasses are kept in the freezer, it should not be put on the bar until the drink has been mixed. If the glasses are on the shelf it should be filled with ice and water before the gin and vermouth bottles are opened. 

This, then is my martini: fiery frost in a velvet cloak, part gin and part vermouth, part insight and part reminiscence, part serenity and part festivity.” 

Dry Martini 
50 ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
15 ml dry vermouth
Combine ingredients in an ice-filled Boston tin. Cover with a julep strainer. Throw as necessary. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze a lemon twist over the drink and discard it. Serve immediately to be consumed, in the words of Harry Craddock, “while it is still laughing at you."""

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Dario Comini, Nottingham Forest, Milano

When I asked Dario to serve me his Martini, it only took him half a second to come up with the answer: The Mondrian Martini, the signature cocktail of Nottingham Forest.

“The Mondrian Martini was born in May 2002 when I had the intuition to adapt the spherication technique of Ferran Adrià, which consists of the controlled gelification of a liquid which forms spheres when submerged in a bath. Although Adrià enclosed small quantities of fruit or vegetable juices in the alginate skin for his cooking preparations, the application of this technique to the world of alcohol was a big challenge. Alcohol, being a solvent, did not behave like the purees, piercing through the spheres in a few seconds when in the calcium bath.

My goal was to create stable spheres that behaved like those used in the kitchen, so I started experimenting. My first thought was to create a syrup composed of alginate and water that had already rested. In Adrià’s preparation, the alginate is introduced with a blender, which adds a lot of air, which must then disperse for the subsequent skin formation phase. Since the mixture inflates excessively, it does not allow the spheres to form. Therefore, I let the mixture rest for 24 hours or alternatively, use through vacuum extraction, which takes only seconds . This rapid premix preparation allows the customer to choose, even at that very moment, what they would like spherified in their cocktail.

However, the solvent issue remained – the higher the ABV, the less the time the sphere remained intact. I solved the problem by adding a precise dose of glucose to the syrup, which I call the "mother syrup”. The sugar created during the formation of the sphere stands between the liquor and alginate, creating an "airbag" that does not allow the alcohol to pierce the ball. I’ve since passed this know how to Fabbri, who has commercialized the premix.

With the problem of the fragility of the spheres solved, I could now focus on creating cocktails with various liquors trapped inside them. The Mondrian is the tribute to the king of cocktails, the Martini. Using the adapted spherification process, I create "molecules" of different colors: green from absinthe, dark brown from Pimm’s, red from Campari bitter, and yellow from vodka infused with saffron. The colors are in tribute to the Dutch painter Pier Mondrian, founder of the neo-plasticism, which inspired the name of my Martini.

The spheres do not interfere with the final taste of the martini, as the spheres remain intact inside the cocktail. I suggest a ratio of 5:1 gin:dry vermouth, served in a generous sized Martini coupe glass. A teaspoon is provided with the drink which allows you to taste them as you wish, letting the explode on your palate, as you sip on the dry Martini. A painting in a glass.”

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Edoardo Nono, Rita, Milano

Edo Nono is a legend in the new Milano da Bere. I credit him with starting the revolution of milanese cocktail bars serving quality drinks and food in the early 2000s.

“Fixing Martinis is a simple gesture.

The more you make, the more it becomes totally natural. Wash your ice in the mixing glass, stir it and strain to discard water; chill your glasses.

It’s crucial to prepare your martini setup so that the final part of your ritual is something very easy and quick.

Spraying vermouth is a technique that I’ve used my entire career.

I don’t want too much to taste vermouth and I want to be sure that the quantity that I use is a standard according to the variety of gin (or vodka).

Noilly Prat is my only choice.

When the temperature is perfect it’s time to start.

I spray the vermouth a few times than I pour the gin in the mixing glass. I stir for ten to fifteen seconds then I let it rest for almost twenty seconds. If there’s plenty of ice in the mixing glass and you’ve strained off the excess water, the mixture does not become overly diluted and the temperature drops considerably.

Then it’s time to give a little extra stir and pour the drink in your martini glasses. I love the "Nick and Nora" martini glasses.

A lemon twist or at times an olive is my garnish of choice. I’m not a fan of the Gibson.

Martin Miller is a fantastic gin. Cinnamon gives it a super fresh aroma and cassia gives the spiciness at the end. Lots of citrus oils complete the profile.

My Martini is my go to drink when I want to drink something very fresh".

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Antonio Rosato, Mandarin Oriental, Milano

Antonio Rosato is a talented young bartender at my favorite hotel bar in the country, the Mandarin Oriental Milano. He prefers Tanqueray 10, a small batch citrus-forward gin. Antonio likes his Martini bone dry and opts for the In and Out method to have the premium Tanqueray 10 gin be the protagonist.

“I start by filling the mixing glass 3/4 full with Hoshizaki ice and then add two sprays of Noilly Prat dry vermouth. I stir the small amount of vermouth on the ice for 10 seconds before discarding it with a strainer.

Then I add 100 mL of Tanqueray 10 to the vermouth-coated ice, stirring for 15 seconds. To finish off the martini, I cut a strip of lemon peel which I then twist over top of the glass to spray the aromatics into the drink. This adds even aroma more to my citrussy and dry Martini.”

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Domenico Carella, Milano

Domenica Carella, European brand ambassador of Mancino and co-founder of Drops tells us about his interesting twist on the Martini cocktail.

“There is a time and of course a way to link what is a perfect aperitif
and meditation drink

So here we are: this is my martini

The 10's

If you know me you will know that I'm fond of a few things, two of
which are the Martini cocktail and Scotch whisky...

So take a nice Martini glass, chill it with the technique that you prefer.

Now take the mixing glass

Pour a generous amount of Mancino secco (30ml)

What ever you do, don't lose a drop of the vermouth! We need all of it
to give us a fully rounded martini.

Now 60 ml of Tanqueray ten

And for a exceptional hint of peat add a few spoons of Ardbeg 10

Stir it.

For my martini, the most important thing after the ingredients is the dilution,

I love to have it wet.

When you have the right temperature and the right dilution pour it
into your glass finishing with a nice and organic lemon peel that will
not go into the glass in the end.

Sip it.

Respect it.

Love it.

Enjoy. “

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Simone Mina, Checchino dal 1887, Roma

Simone is the manager of Testaccio’s most historic restaurant Checchino dal 1887, famous for serving “quinto quarto“ Roman cuisine. Thanks to Simone, there is also an impressive cocktail menu at Checchino, with an entire section dedicated to the Martini. Simone is ambassador of Botran rum, so it’s not surprising, this fine rum ended up in Simo’s Martini.

”The idea for the drink was born from my love for rum in general and for white spirits. The pirate in me wanted to make a Martini with reminds you of sea and adventure, dirty but without relying on olive brine.

Thus, taking advantage of those natural olive scents of white rums from Martinique, in this case to my dear Botran Reserva Blanca, I have paired a HSE cuvée de l'an 2010 that compliments the savory and olive profile of the drink with a pleasant note of tropical fruit and with its 50% ABV might, helps the martini to stay pleasantly dry.

This is my way of understanding the poetry of Dry Martini, which me is the most anarchic cocktail that exists. It is in this perspective that my martini was crafted and has motivated my other martini experiments at Checchino dal 1887 which I love to call my Martini Olé”

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5cl Botran Reserva blanca

2cl HSE cuvée de l'an 2010

1,5cl Tio Pepe Sherry Fino

4 lacrime di sirena (saline solution)

Garnish with three olives not washed in brine placed in the glass before pouring the drink

Colored coupe glass

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