What sets "Milano Est" apart from the other zones in Milano is that it always feels like home. Let's explore this vibrant and friendly area together, including Corso Buenos Aires, Porta Venezia, Città Studi and Lambrate.
1. 1930, Cocktail €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. The favorites include the warm and comforting Xibalda made with the blue blazer method and featuring Don Julio Tequila, Ron Zacapa 23, Kaffir Lime, Citrus and Water, Chilli Pepper, Demerara and Chocolate, the savory Lighthouse of Spain with brandy, peach and fino sherry, beeswax, wood and salt, and 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.
2. Casa Mia, Cocktail €12
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.
3. l’ALCHIMIA RISTORANTE & LOUNGE BAR, Cocktail €12
Alchimia is an ambitious new project from Alberto Tasinato, former F&B manager of Mandarin Oriental Milano. Together with chef Davide Puleio and bar manager Valerio Trentani, they’ve created an elegant yet welcoming bar restaurant in Viale Premuda, a three-minute walk from 1930. The restaurant features stunning dishes such as the Risotto Milano Roma and Carbonara from the experienced Roman chef Puleio. In the lounge bar area, you can try smaller dishes such as the heavenly Anchovies, Butter and Bread or Cacio e Pepe to pair with a great cocktail from Valerio or Chiara Domenichini. My favorite signatures are La Mia Milano (Vermouth Cocchi Storico, Campari, Rabarbaro Zucca e Saffron perfume), Milano - Venezia in 3 anni (Vermouth Cocchi Storico, Campari, Grappa Castagner 3 yo and Soda water) and Casta Panky (Vermouth Cocchi Dopoteatro, Casta, Dom Bénédictine, Amaro Leon) shown below.
4. Drinc, Cocktail €10
The first thing you'll notice when entering Drinc, located in Via Plinio, is the warm hospitality of Luca Marcellin, who make sure to greet and chat with everyone immediately as they enter. This kind welcome shouldn't come as a surprise because of their important experience together at the famous Four Seasons hotel of Milano. Drinc itself is small, with four bar stools in front of Luca and a few tables. It's a very intimate place, perfect for chatting with with your friend or date.
The best drink of the menu is the Nothing like the first sip, which reproduces the emotion of the first sip 5 times, in one Martini cocktail. First, Plymouth gin, vermouth infused with cardamom and lavander and lemon bitters are carefully mixed together using a dropper. Then the concoction is shaken and poured into a test tube which is sealed with a cap and placed in a glacette to keep it cool. When ready, you swivel the Martini glass of choice into place, pour the first sip, and add the respective garnish.
Another great drink from the new menu is the variation Whisky Sour ma va là with whiskey, salty caramel and cuman syrup, organic apple juice, fresh lime and egg white.
5. Nottingham Forest, cocktail €10
Nottingham Forest is rightfully the most famous bar in Italy, thanks to Dario Comini, the father of molecular mixology. Because of this, you will need to arrive early to grab a spot. Otherwise you'll wait in line for 30 minutes or more. Respect to Comini who treats all of his customers equally, with no preferential lineup for industry people or VIPs.
Once you enter, you are greeted by the waiter who accompanies you to your seat, either at the bar or at one of the handful of small tables. There is also seating outside but I would discourage sitting there as you lose the atmosphere of the bar, described by some as Indian Jones' attic. Nottingham Forest is a dark and intimate bar, decorated with interesting objects collected by Comini during his various travels in Asia, Africa, America and the Caribbean. Perhaps the most interesting one is the bar itself, which used to be bar in NY's historic Knickerbocker hotel, where the Martini cocktail was invented. In fact, the Martini cocktail is Comini's favorite drink and you can't go wrong ordering one of his many variations on the classic. Perhaps Dario's most famous variation on the classic the Mondrian Martini, where Comini adds spheres of trapped liquor to a Martini cocktail. He uses the spherification process from molecular gastronomy to create "molecules" of different colors: green from absinthe, red from bitter campari, yellow from vodka infused with saffron.
Outside of the Martini category, one of Comini's best is the Negroni Vellutato with a foam of walnuts, which adds more character to the famous aperitif. In fact this drink has inspired a new trend among mixologists, with many developing their twist on this cocktail.
Although Nottingham Forest has recently fallen out of the World's 50 Best Bars list, there's no doubt it's the most important cocktail bar in the country, having paved the way for the new generation of cocktail bars such as L'Antiquario in Naples, Jerry Thomas in Rome and 1930 in Milano.
6. Harp Pub Guinness, Cocktail €8
Harp Pub Guinness is an institution in Città Studi - serving great piadine and milanese comfort food to hungry Politecnico di Milano students during the day, classic aperitivo drinks to professors and older alumni at happy hour and refined cocktails to the younger after dinner crowd. Try head bartender Riccardo Corbetta's Smoked Bloody Mary or anything off his latest drink list. Of course there's also Angelo Corbetta, who can always suggest a great scotch to finish off the evening on a high note.
7. Atmosphere Pub, Cocktail €8
Under the management of siblings Matteo and Michela Ciammella, Atmosphere Pub is one of the best bars in East Milano. Other than fine cocktails, you can also try a great beer from craft brewer Birrofila. Atmosphere Pub is a happy balance between a dive bar and an american bar, which make it the ideal neighborhood hangout, and a favorite of both locals and bartenders.
Matteo is a big fan of the Old Fashioned so make sure to ask him for his rendition of this classic. Also check out his variation on the Sazerac with Michter's whiskey, cognac, Angostura and Peychaud's bitters. The small batch unblended whiskey gives the drink more elegance and smoothness compared to a typical bourbon or rye.
8. Sapori Solari, Cocktail €8
Led by bartender Juan Valente and waitress Marika Squicciarini, Sapori Solari is one of my favorite new openings in Milano. It’s impossibile not to be drawn into this hip new space in Via Solari, with a stunning backbar at the entrance. The focus here is on cold cuts, cheese, wine and Juan’s phenomenal cocktails like the Fresh Green (bourbon, soda, lime, honey, matcha tea). There are also two sexy dining rooms to to the left of the bar area where you can sample some of the best salumi in Italy.
9. Milord, Cocktail €7
I first discovered Milord at a laurea party as this large all-purpose breakfast/lunch/aperitivo joint 100 m from Piazza Leonardo da Vinci is popular with students from Polictenico di Milano. After meeting Cristian Lodi at various bar events, I’ve started to frequent Milord thanks to his excellent cocktails like Derby Pie, a whiskey sour variation with lemon juice, pear and vanilla syrup, bourbon infused with walnuts and the addictive Ruby chocolate from Chocolate Academy Milano sprinkled on top.
10. Rebel, Cocktail €8
Rebel is a new cocktail lounge in Via Donatello run by Emi and Jor. The interior design is 70s/80s style, with a vintage record player, a hip table that looks like something out of a Clockwork Orange and other furniture that will sweep you back to the best moments of your youth. The drinks are simple but well executed. Bartender Marco Brisichella made me fine renditions of a Manhattan and Boulevardier, Rebel is a great choice for those looking for an alternative to the usual cocktail bar in Milano, with a different crowd than the typical hipsters and fighetti that dominate the Milanese scene.
11. Bar Basso, Cocktail €10
Bar Basso is classic Milano da Bere, complete with a disorganized service and randomly proportioned Negroni and Negroni Sbagliato. But perhaps that's the appeal of this bar, which some consider to be one of the World's 50 Best. It's a chaotic and dynamic mess - much like Milano.