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.
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.
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.
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.
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.