Compiling a list of the Top 10 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!
As such, I’ve come up with two lists - the 5 best “High end” bars (cocktails over €10) and the 5 best “Everyday” bars (drinks €10 or less).
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 and glassware?)
taste (cocktail taste of signatures and classics according to my palate)
ice (clear, pretty ice of different eye pleasing shapes)
Top 5 High End bars
location 8/10, atmosphere 10/10, service 9/10, team 8/10, presentation 10/10, taste 8/10, ice 10/10 - overall 9/10 (€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, and bar manager Benjamin Cavagna, 1930 is now a well-oiled machine, recently making 80th spot on the coveted World’s 50 Best Bars list.
The current theme at 1930 is Asian, including music, decor and drinks inspired by the Orient.
2. CERESIO 7
location 7/10, atmosphere 10/10, service 9/10, team 10/10, presentation 9/10, taste 8/10, ice 9/10 - overall 8.9/10 (€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 (editor’s note: Guglielmo will make this happen this summer!). Ceresio is one of most glamorous bars in Milano, and the favorite bar of many. From the new Sartorial menu, don’t miss Smoking with Michter’s rye whiskey, Vieux Carrè syrup, bitters, and smoked wood. Ensuring a great drinking experience is one of the most stacked bar teams in Milano including Santino, Dario, Abdel and Federico.
location 9/10, atmosphere 10/10, service 9/10, team 9/10, presentation 8/10, taste 8/10, ice 9/10 - overall 8.9/10 (€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.
location 8/10, atmosphere 9/10, service 9/10, team 9/10, presentation 9/10, taste 9/10, ice 8/10 - overall 8.7/10 (€20)
location 9/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 9/10, team 7/10, presentation 8/10, taste 8/10, ice 8/10 - overall 8.1/10 (€20)
drinc. is finally back on my ranking of the best bars in the city thanks to a great new list, expanded bottle area and an awesome martini trolley. Conveniently located in Via Plinio in Porta Venezia, the intimate space is designed to create the perfect atmosphere for chatting with friends or meeting new people up at the bar. The bar is beautifully designed with dim lighting and dark tables, to ensure a special night, whether you’re on a date, or just having a martini with your mates.
Bar manager Luca Marcellin continues to sick with his paint color fan out menu, with my favorite from the list being his Sti ca…sta! with CASTA grappa, Luxardo maraschino, mezcal, Select, Cynar and macadamia nut syrup. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a martini served from the trolley!
Top 5 Everyday bars
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.
2. BOTANICAL CLUB Melzo
location 9/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 7/10, team 7/10, presentation 8/10, taste 8/10, ice 9/10 - overall 8/10 (€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 third iteration of Boatnical Club in the booming Porta Venezia district, I was immediately impressed with the slick bar area and great lighting. Manning the show is rockstar bartender Roberto Rossi (ex 1930, Danico) one of the best in the city. Photos by Charlie.
location 8/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 8/10, team 8/10, presentation 7/10, taste 9/10, ice 7/10 - overall 7.9/10 (€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 France, and is easily the best list in Iter’s history. Try the complex and dry sipper Siranò di Bergerak with Armagnac Castaréde VSOP, sweet vermouth, Disaronno, orange flower water and Caldiff Privat.
location 9/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 8/10, team 8/10, presentation 7/10, taste 8/10, ice 6/10 - overall 7.7/10 (€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.
location 8/10, atmosphere 8/10, service 8/10, team 7/10, presentation 8/10, taste 7/10, ice 7/10 - overall 7.6/10 (€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 Cesar, who delivers tasty concoctions with impeccable style. Don’t miss out on the spicy and smokey Los Cuatrocientos Conejos.