Colibrì / by shane eaton

books, coffee, jazz, and now ale leuci's cocktails!  :: vote 9/10 :: €5+ for aperitivo

Alessandro Leuci. Although many probably know him as one half of the headlining duo at Twist and Shout, I first met Ale at Santeria about 4 years ago, where he was the head bartender. Ale and immediately became friends, although I have no idea how. You see, Ale is a big AC Milan supporter, and if you don’t know by now, the large serpent tattooed on my right arm represents my love for rival Inter.  But we somehow we bonded, perhaps because of our appreciation for fine cocktails and positive energy.

We even spent some time outside of Santeria, with a night out at our favorite speakeasy in Milano. Ale even incredibly convinced me to attend the regular Twist and Shout concert at Magnolia – a miracle given that I can’t dance. But to my surprise I had a great time at Twist and Shout, only requiring about 5 beers to start bopping along with the great tunes from the 50s and 60s.

When Ale told me he had taken a job at a new bar I was a bit shocked. I had always associated him with his gig in Via Paladini. But when he said that his new job would be at Colibrì, I was overjoyed. I had already discovered this beautiful bar in Via Laghetto near the Statale with my adorable friends from Zomato. Colibrì features four beautiful rooms: the main bar for those like me who wanna be close to the action, a central room and beautiful outdoor courtyard for chilling with friends, and finally a small bookstore carrying an interesting collection books. I had previously tried Colibrì for lunch, having had one of the best burgers in the city. At the time, there were few bottles for making cocktails and so the only possibilities were the usual spritzes and negronis.

But with the arrival of Ale, it’s clear the owners wanted to invest in a higher end drinking experience. Therefore, the bar area has received a major upgrade, and Ale is still adding to the collection. I came by to see Ale for his evening shift so I could sample some of his great drinks. He works alongside another cool bartender, Lucia Migliacci.

Toney and I entered the bar area around 6pm, when the aperitivo was already in full swing thanks to the young students from the nearby University of Milano. I sat up at the bar and asked Ale to make me a drink, without any other instructions. Ale still knows my tastes well and although it was a bit early in the evening for it, he opted for a whiskey alcoholic base to the drink. The elegant cocktail was served in a coupe and featured Knob creek bourbon, Quaglia chamomile liqueur, Carpano antica formula and chocolate bitters. The stiff and savory drink was perfectly suited to my palate and had a fragrant bouquet thanks to the chamomile. Eventhough Ale hadn’t made me a drink in over 2 years, he nailed it on the first try. The drink is called “Piantato in asso”, which loosely translates to walked out on or dumped. He called it this because he made it for his unlucky friend just after he had been ditched by his ex girlfriend. Given that I am dumped on a bi-weekly basis, I figured it was also appropriate for me.

Ale then prepared me “She Sparks”, a drink dedicated to his girlfriend. It features 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. Another phenomenal drink by Ale that should definitely be on the new drink list which Ale and Lucia are working on.

Although Colibri is somewhat off the beaten path compared to the more frequented zones of Porta Romana and Navigli, it’s definitely worth a visit for Ale’s warm personality and fine drinkmaking skills. Adding to the fun at Colibrì, there are regular jazz concerts, book presentations, and other unique exhibits at the bar. Without a doubt, Colibrì is one of the coolest and most versatile bars in the city for its unusual offering of "books, coffee, jazz"