The new drink list at Mag Café is inspired by fairytales, with the cocktails dazzling all five of your senses. The new menu is by far the most ambitious in the history of the cocktail bar at Ripa di Porta Ticinese 43 with Flavio clearly investing heavily in the quality of the menu and sides that accompany each drink. For the first time in several years, I would argue MaG is worthy of the World's 50 Best Bars list, not an easy task for a high-volume cocktail bar which must also cater to the mainstream imbiber.
I was blown away by the look and feel of the new menu: the tactile touch on the menu's cover will make you think it's made of leather but in fact's it's a high-end paper. When you open the book, you will be reminded of a children's fairtayle book, with vivid colors and playful pages, including maps, fold out pages revealing drink recipes, and a rotating wheel where you select how the "Fantasy of the Professor" drink is completed.
I had to pleasure of stopping by MaG on a sunny Saturday along with the official MaG photographer Alessandro Cargnoni. If you don't know Ale, he's the best photographer in Milano, with an amazing range of talent. With his trusty Nikon D750, not only is he great at capturing candid shots of people, but also portraits, street, food, cocktails, whatever. He has an amazing gift at making any scene more beautiful than it really is. Below you can check out some of his work, as I sit down to try the new menu at MaG cafe. I also give my impressions of four of the twelve new drinks.
The Sword in the Shaker by Vito Pietroburgo features Plymouth Gin, almond milk, orgeat syrup, Briottet Fleur de Sureau (Eldeflower) liqueur. This deliciously sweet drink served with a cantuccino cookie will almost remind you of a Vin Santo dessert wine. Adding to the pleasure of sipping on this floral drink is its drinking receptacale: a cobbler shaker with a metal straw. Respect to Vito for coming up with a brilliant recipe and presentation. 8.5/10.
The most fun drink on the menu is surely Lilli sul Navigli, featuring Zacapa, tomato reduction, buckwheat honey, lemon and bread crust. This drink is served on a placemat typical of an Italian trattoria, along with fake spaghetti and tomato sauce. The spaghetti is actually vanilla ice cream, which you can enjoy alongside the savoury concoction. I really enjoyed the tomato reduction in this rum-drink, balanced by the sweetness from the honey, with sour notes provided by the lemon. If I wanted to show off the new list to a guest, this would be the first drink I order for them. Well done Yurii! 9.5/10.
For those who appreciate sour and spicy notes, you should definitely try Insane Out, with Mezcal Vago, Michter's Whiskey, ancho reyes, chilli pepper, pear, pimiento, cacao, vanilla, orgeat syrup, and lime. Well done Vale Grilli for this tasty and refreshing cocktail! 9/10.
Possibly my favorite drink on the new MaG menu is The Beast (La Bestia) with cognac, tobacco, Picon, gum arabic. Francesco Bonazzi once agains proves his worth to the MaG family, coming up with a meditation worthy cognac drink that is light enough, at least for my palate, to be enjoyed as an aperitif. 9.5/10. (Photo by Shane)