Although UGO recently came out the winner of a recent survey of the best cocktail in Milano, those in the know (i.e. my awesome friends) would argue that Pinch, Rita and MAG are the top 3 bars on Naviglio, if not the city.
15 years ago, Rita started the cocktail revival in the canal area, focusing on refreshing drinks, a fun vibe and great food. Then about 5 years ago, came along MAG with Flavio and Marco. They raise the bar even higher, with sophisticated cocktails with an enchanting atmosphere. The newest kid on the block is Pinch, being only 3 years old.
Actually, I first discovered Pinch thanks to a recommendation from Flavio. And what a recommendation! A gorgeous back bar, manned by legendary Mattia Lissoni, the creative and adorable Erik Viola, and the reliable and efficient new entry Antonio Galetta. The staff at Pinch are beautiful both inside and out: Piero, Pietro, Francesco and of course Valeria, maybe my favorite waitress in Navigli. There's also the professional Mattia (Freddi) who makes sure everyone's having a good time at the busy cocktail bar. In addition to the staff, it's always a pleasure to see the owners from time to time like Chiara, Giovanni and Sergio.
No Pinch experience is complete without hanging out with barflys Burri and Angelillo, who should have their own name plaques up at the bar counter, or at least a portrait on the wall. Other popular regulars include Andrea, Pietro, Costanza, Manuela and Caterina. There is a loyal group of older gentlemen affectionately referred to as the geriatric gang: Il Direttore, Daniele, and Il Duca can be spotted sitting in the VIP corner area of the bar counter. As Pinch is truly a bartender's bar, you often see industry people at Pinch. It's not surprising to run into celebrities like Memfi, Luca Simonetta, Oscar Q, Ale Leuci, Mirko Turconi and Filippo Sisti.
So why do we all love Pinch so much? The recipe is simple. Excellent drinks, fun people and a cool, unprententious and laid back atmosphere. Unlike the high-octaine MAG, Pinch is far more accessible and easy going on a Saturday night. There's more room to move around and you feel more relaxed when sitting up at the bar.
In the past Toney and I have tried to support both MAG and Pinch with their new menu launches, but we're both becoming very busy with our day jobs, and it's now more of a challenge to cover the new happenings at our favorite bars. But we were disappointed we missed the chance to cover the new summer menu at Pinch, which is one of their best yet. So Saturday afternoon we popped by Pinch to sample three of the new drinks that Erik and Chiara suggested. Here are my impressions and some beautiful photos by Toney.
My favorite drink of the new menu is Amareno with bourbon, vanilla liqueur, vodka infused with white chocolate, cranberry and black cherry ganache. This sweet and rich drink by Erik will bring back find childhood memories of eating black cherry ice cream. The texture and mouthfeel of this drink are phenomenal. --->9.5/10
A great alternative to the spirit-forward cocktails I am used to drinkin is the Melonbarber with lime, agave syrup, cantaloupe juice, tequila Espolòn and rhubarb juice.
The fresh and revitalizing tequila drink by Mattia is perfect for sipping on a hot summer evening. --> 9.25/10
Then there's Toney's favorite drink of the menu, Maremoto San with lime, sugar, palm nut, Angostura, gin, aloe vera, kombu seaweed. A lush and tangy cocktail by Fabio that is a twist on the gin sour. ---> 9/10