What are you drinking? Do you want something to drink? Let me buy you a drink. Something good, different, incredible, unusual. I’ll take you wherever you want to go, here in Milan. I know all the watering holes, where the cocktail waiters shine, where drops of angostura are counted out without looking. Those place, those bars that you can only find here, in Milan.
Shall we start at the beginning? Want to hit happy hour when they are still calling ‘last orders’? Come this way, Bar Basso is just round here – a monument, just like the Duomo. Don’t move! He’s there, mixing negronis or whatever you fancy; making you feel like you’re in the midst of those years you’ve only heard stories about; they’re calling out to you – can you hear them?
Let’s head to the bright lights, where things are done just so. Come, let’s hit the Dry. Which do you fancy? The one in Solferino is a thing of the past. In the other, behind the Repubblica, you can even eat at midday. Want the focaccia with the vitel tonné? And do you know what the sous vide cocktail is? Come on, let’s go. You’ll see. You’ll see such things; now, let’s go to Tahiti, or perhaps to Cuba, I don’t know. No, let’s catch a plane; past the 19, there’s Nottingham Forest. No, it’s not in England, it’s behind Monforte. I’m having a Martini Mondrian. Yup, it’s colourful – it’s a Mondrian. What about you? Come on, clean your mouth out with mojito mouthwash. Those are the rules at the Nottingham.
You don’t like gin? Oh, I see. You mean you don’t drink that gin. Fact is, I don’t either. I look after myself. But I’m not talking about that gin, nor just any old gin, eh! What I’m telling you is that in The Botanical Club, they make their gin in a 150 litre still. That’s right: their gin. Aside from hundreds of other labels. No, don’t worry. They don’t have that gin.
Porta Venezia is banging; chaotic but bursting with life. I like it a lot, but sometimes I just want peace and quiet so I can drink the way I fancy. Let’s head down San Gregorio and try a Don in the Barba, with its star-shrouded ceiling, and eat some quality tapas. Have you ever had a Torino-Milano in Novara street? It’s the path to true happiness. Okay, then. Let’s raise the bar. The finest cocktail bar in the city: Rita. A bar, tables (best to hit the bar, believe me), topshelf spirits, Edoardo Nono in the house and out comes the first zen gin of the night. Have you tried zen gin yet? They even drink it in Singapore, I think. But it’s from here, Milan, from the Naviglio Grande. It’s Rita’s offspring.
Wow, it’s getting late. Come on, don’t worry. We’ll grab a taxi. But we need to have a nightcap to round things off. There’s a bar not far from here, but it’s secreted away – it’s a speak easy. Maybe it’s in the back room of an offie or a terrace somewhere. It’s invite only, nothing else will do. No, I’m not crackers; that’s Milan for you. It hardly needs saying, but you need to drink your way through this city, drink like crazy!
Federico Flamminio / Photo itm.srl x Kemon