Barbajada: a drink with an intriguing name

Taste the traditional dishes of Milano

A drink with an intriguing, almost mysterious name, the Barbajada is actually and quite simply named after its inventor, Neapolitan Domenico Barbaja.


The drink was invented in the Café “Cambiasi” that was located next to the La Scala Theatre (and was also called Caffè del Teatro or Theatre Café) and it was the meeting place for singers, musicians and spectators. The inventor, Barbaja, was a waiter in the café and later managed singers and performances at La Scala.


In the mid-1800s, at a time when it was probably colder and the fog more intense than it is today, he came forward with this drink, asserting that it would warm and pamper the palate of the Milanese.


The Barbajada was comprised of cream, coffee and chocolate. It remained in vogue up until the 1930s and survived for a few years after that before completely dying away. Today, however, if you ask a real Milanese what the Barbajada is, they will certainly know the answer.


Furthermore, the Barbajada also owes its fame to the fact that the idea was probably conceived by impresario and gourmet Gioacchino Rossini.

The recipe

Ingredients – Serves 4


  • Drinking chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Milk or cream


In order to recreate the original Barbajada, be careful with the proportion of the ingredients, irrespective of the amount you wish to make.


Put one third drinking chocolate, one third coffee and one third of milk or cream in the chocolate pot; as it heats up, beat vigorously with a whisk (or hand held mixer) so that it becomes frothy.


Barbajada is also excellent cold in summer.