Milano is the capital of the aperitif; an accolade the city has been proudly displaying for many years now, as a laurel wreath of sorts. Even if history narrates that the first Italian city to move into elegant drinking was Turin, it is impossible not to go back to how Milano took its place in "futurist mixing", which in the 1930s definitely launched a trend destined to continue over time: the aperitivo.
Eventually, the sheer number of aperitif cocktails increased and so have the number of new bars. Discerning customers have driven the demand for sophisticated drinks and bars have risen to the challenge by inventing more and more new concoctions. Nowadays, Milano just never stops experimenting. Gin, mescal, tequila - you name it - the city will have just the right drink for you.
In the 1960s, drinking cocktails in Milano was still a luxury. Those who could afford an aperitivo hung around venues that are today's historic bars, the city’s most long-lived. Magistrates, industrialists and designers flocked to one of the first bars to invent an iconic drink in Milano - Bar Basso. Legend has it that as the owner, Mirko Stocchetto, was serving a Negroni he mistakenly mixed fizzy spumante (rather than gin) in equal parts with Campari Bitter and sweet red vermouth. And the classic Negroni was immediately re-born as Negroni Sbagliato (Mistaken Negroni).
Recipe for Negroni Sbagliato
1/3 brut spumante
1/3 red vermouth (traditionally, Carpano)
Slice of orange
Zucca lavorato "secco"
Verdi, Toscanini and Marinetti: it is still possible to order the aperitivo that these famous artists sipped before performances at La Scala.
Just ask the barman at Camparino, a veritable Milanese institution with a magnificent view of the Duomo, for a Zucca done secco (with a base of Cent’erbe liqueur, a secret Zucca recipe).
Zucca lavorato “secco” recipe
One part Zucca Cent’erbe secret recipe
One part Campari
One part Rabarbaro Zucca
A few steps away from the Duomo you can find another traditional bar, the legendary Gin Rosa - creator of the celebrated drink of the same name.
Here, you cannot but order a shaken Gin Rosa and, whether you choose to drink at the bar or take a seat at the tables outside in the galleria, it will feel like being taken back to the swinging Milano da bere scene of the Eighties.
Shaken Gin Rosa recipe
Angostura (one teaspoon)
The Rosa Grand Milano – Starhotels Collection - Signature Cocktail
Signature cocktail of the Rosa Grand Milano hotel, overlooking the historic Piazza Fontana, behind the city’s majestic Duomo.
With a base of Saffron Gin and the addition of Antica Formula Vermouth and sugar syrup with a light buttery note, this cocktail is served with a bite-sized Milanese breaded veal cutlet or with the Hotel’s celebrated Club Sandwich, which Corriere della Sera has acclaimed as one of the best in Milan.
The pic shows a very original Gift version for hotel guests, in an attractive CD-like package.