Best Cocktail Bars of Central Milano by shane eaton

1. Mandarin Oriental, Cocktail 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 most interesting drinks on the menu is the Campari Lassi with Campari bitter, goat milk, Panizzi yogurt and Cardamom. Lassi is an Indian yogurt-based drink and the addition of Campari adds a pleasant bitterness to the savory beverage, traditionally used for digestion after a big meal.

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.

Another can’t miss drink, particularly to wind up your visit, is the complex and meditation worthy Fumé with brandy, Ardbeg Ten, Green Apple, vanilla and Peychaud's bitters.

Mandarin Oriental is the best bar in the Center thanks to the slick interior design, polite service and the outstanding cocktails.

 The gorgeous bar counter at Mandarin

The gorgeous bar counter at Mandarin

  Mo-Re Pear and Campari Lassi

Mo-Re Pear and Campari Lassi

  Laverstocke Mill Martini and Fumé

Laverstocke Mill Martini and Fumé

2. Camparino, Cocktail €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.

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)

3. Baxter Bar, Cocktail €15

Baxter Bar is a great choice for a glamorous aperitif near Milano's Duomo Cathedral. Baxter features a gorgeous interior design with ultrahigh ceilings and a spellbinding back bar. The drink menu was designed by Fresco Cocktail Shop, the highly regarded bar from Como focused on the freshest possible ingredients. Upon entering, you will be greeted by the friendly Arlyna, who prepared a well executed Dirty Martini as the first drink. Then, taking over the bartending duties was her apprentice Humbe, fresh out of bartending school but up to the challenge.

He prepared a seductive Milano Torino with Campari bitter and Martelletti vermouth. The best cocktail on the menu was the Ring The Bell with mezcal, bitter, candied apricot and shaken with dehydrated pineapple. To finish off the evening in style try the Vieux carrè reverse with Mulassano vermouth, Voyer Cognac, Michter's rye, Gentiane, Angostura and Peychaud's bitters.
 

  Arlyna prepares a Dirty Martini

Arlyna prepares a Dirty Martini

  Mi To, Baxter edition

Mi To, Baxter edition

  Ring the Bell and Vieux Carre Reverse

Ring the Bell and Vieux Carre Reverse

 

4. Colibrì, Cocktail €10

Although many probably know him as one half of the headlining duo at Twist and Shout, Ale Leuci is also an excellent bartender, having started his career at Santeria in Città Studi. He has recently started working for Colibrì in Via Laghetto. It features four beautiful rooms: the main bar, a central room and beautiful outdoor courtyard for chilling with friends, and finally a small bookstore carrying an interesting collection books.

Around 6pm we visited Colibrì when the aperitivo was already in full swing thanks to the young students from the nearby University of Milano. Knowing our tastes, Ale prepared a savory cocktail served in a coupe with Knob creek bourbon, Quaglia chamomile liqueur, Carpano antica formula and chocolate bitters.

Ale then prepared She Sparks, with fresh raspberries, brown sugar, lime juice, Sandeman Ruby Port and Stoli vodka and a top of Berlucchi prosecco after the other ingredients are shaked and strained. It’s a refreshingly sour and fresh drink thanks to the lime, raspberries and prosecco, with some rich sweetness provided by the Port wine.

Adding to the fun at Colibrì, there are regular jazz concerts, book presentations, and other unique exhibits at the bar. Although Colibri is somewhat off the beaten path, it’s definitely worth a visit for Ale’s warm personality and fine drinkmaking skills.

  Ale Leuci makes a sumptuous whiskey cocktail; She Sparks (photos Toney Teddy Fernandez)

Ale Leuci makes a sumptuous whiskey cocktail; She Sparks (photos Toney Teddy Fernandez)

 

5. Four Seasons, Cocktail €22

The bar at the Four Seasons in Via Gesù 6/8 is a must visit after shopping in the Golden Quadrangle district. In our case it’s only window shopping as we prefer spending our spare cash on booze rather than fashion. The drink list was created by Luca Marcellin, who is now running the successful Drinc in Porta Venezia, to be featured in the upcoming East Milano article.

The best drink on the menu is the Negroni Macchiato with Plymouth gin, Macchia vermouth, Campari, Finocchietto Calabro, Amaro mix Foyer, Fernet Branca and Angostura . Although the Four Seasons doesn’t have seating right up the bar, you can enjoy your aperitivo in the majestic courtyard outside, one of the best in the city.

  Butched Negroni and Negroni Macchiato

Butched Negroni and Negroni Macchiato

 

6. Armani Hotel, Cocktail €23

The Armani hotel in Via Manzoni is one of the most popular hotels for wealthy tourists and Milanese. On the top floor is the luxurious Bamboo bar, with well-crafted cocktails with courteous service. The highlight of the bar is Greta, the lovely waitress who ensures that all the customers are happy. The best drink on the list is the bold and herbal Il Commenda, with Zucca rhubarb liqueur, Lagavulin, Martini bitter and green mandarin essential oil.

  Il Commenda

Il Commenda

 

7. Terrazza 12, Cocktail €15

Terrazza 12 is located on the top floor of the Brian & Barry building (San Babila), just above the famed restaurant Asola. In the two years Terrazza 12 (T12) has been open, it has become the coolest terrace in central Milano. Usually rooftop bars offer beautiful views, sexy people, but awful drinks. Thankfully at T12 the drinks are quite good.

Mixologists Oscar Quagliarini, Lorenzo Antinori and Mattia Pastori helped design the initial cocktail menu. Rosso di Sera has OSCAR.697 bianco vermouth, Campari bitter and Johnny Walker Gold scotch whisky is perfect to sip while marveling at the milanese skyline.

  Rosso di Sera

Rosso di Sera

Best Cocktail Bars of Southeast Milano by shane eaton

1. Rotonda Bistro, Cocktail €8

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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2. The Spirit, Cocktail €13

The Spirit is a slick new 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, Vittorio Farci, 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.

For a great twist on the Old Fashioned, try Vittorio’s version with Michter’s Sour Mash, Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish barley, Angostura and Violento bitters.

 North West Trip; The Spirit entrance

North West Trip; The Spirit entrance


3. Dhole, Cocktail €10

Dhole is a new cocktail bar/restaurant with a bar program run by Milo (ex 1930, Morgante, Eppol). Dhole, pronouced “dole”, is a wild dog from Central, South and Southeast Asia. Milo’s first cocktail menu not surprisingly features innovative cocktails made with Asian spices, preparations and spirits. My favorite drink was the spicy and herbal Therevada with thai fried gin, lime, soy sauce bitters and tumerick. I also enjoyed the smooth Japanese twist on the Martini called Kanagawa-oki Nami-ura with Fuji apple gin, umeboshi and sake. Dhole has the potential to wake waves in Milano and internationally thanks to its completely original and delicious libations.

 Dhole bar area; Kanagawa-oki Nami-ura with Therevada in background.

Dhole bar area; Kanagawa-oki Nami-ura with Therevada in background.

4. ENJOY, Cocktail €10

Enjoy is a hard cocktail bar to describe or review because it’s not actually a bar. It’s essentially a loft which could be easily confused with your rich hipster friend’s apartment. To access Enjoy is even more confusing. It’s open sometimes, but when exactly? Once you become a member, you get regular SMS messages explaining when Enjoy is open. I am a proud member, but have yet to receive any updates by phone. My friends in the know tell me Enjoy is still open, but the challenge for the staff is that they split their time between Milano and the original location in Vicenza. That means that you never really know when Enjoy Milano is open. It would advise calling them but they don’t have a phone number in Milano. I can tell you the location though: Via Pietro Colletta, 17 in Porta Romana.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Enjoy on a single occasion. The concept is very cool - hand crafted spirits, tailor made cocktails, and a friendly convivial vibe. The space features a large bar counter in the center where customers sit together and the bartender prepares drinks on request. I sampled an Old Fashioned and a Martini cocktail, with both being superb. I felt good here, what I imagine it would be like drinking a cocktail at Massimo Stronati’s home for example. To be honest, Enjoy could be one of the best bars in the city, if only I knew when the fuck it was open.

 Old Fashioned; Ale, Giulia, Agnese, Giampiero and Massimo

Old Fashioned; Ale, Giulia, Agnese, Giampiero and Massimo

5. Lacerba, Cocktail €10

A barman's cocktail bar, Lacerba along with Nottingham Forest and Luca e Andrea first taught Milano that there's more to life than the spritz, negroni sbagliato or mojito. To pair with your drink, Lacerba offers an excellent aperitivo, with much better food than the typical happy hour fare you find in Milano.

The staff at Lacerba are all cool and friendly people such as bar manager Ago Galli and bartender Giacomo “Jack” Ellena - they are the kind of guys you'd want to hang outside of the cocktail bar. The clientele at Lacerba is a mix of young and old, with artists, professionals, bankers and professors - their common bond is their appreciation of sipping a fine cocktail in a relaxing environment.

 Late City Night (Leo Todisco)

Late City Night (Leo Todisco)