Milan’s history is interwoven with that of some of the most important distilleries in Italy, well-known names such as Ramazzotti, Zucca, Fratelli Branca and Campari. This itinerary serves up a taste of the famous ‘Milano da bere’ era in the ‘80s.
1.Ramazzotti and the history of the bitter aperitif, symbol of the city
In 1815, inside a small laboratory in Milan, Ausano Ramazzotti began to experiment with creating a flavoured drink that would be perfect for every moment of the day and was to be made with ingredients from all over the world. He created a blend of 33 spices, herbs, flowers and fruits whose recipe has been handed down over time and is still secret.
Amaro Ramazzotti has become the bitter aperitif symbol of Milan, famous also for its ‘80s advertising slogan ‘Milano da bere’ (Swinging Milano).
2. Rabarbaro Zucca
The history of Rabarbaro Zucca is also strongly linked to Milan. Created in 1845 by Ettore Zucca, it was produced in the late 1800s in the headquarters at Corso Buenos Aires 33. It is a bitter aperitif made from an infusion of rhubarb and other botanicals. The brand is now owned by the ILLVA Saronno industrial group.
3. Fratelli Branca and a great museum to be discovered
The Fratelli Branca factory is the only operative distillery within the city’s boundaries, in the Viale Jenner area. The corporate offices are flanked by the distillery and a museum (https://www.yesmilano.it/esplora/luoghi/museo-branca).
In 1845 the pharmacist Bernardino Branca experimented with a remedy for malaria and cholera and created a bitter that went on to make history. Its formula is elusive and handed down through generations: 27 herbs, spices and roots from four continents make up the product and create its typical brown colour - rhubarb from China, gentian from France, galangal from India or Sri Lanka and chamomile from Europe and Argentina, just to name a few.
4. Campari and the aperitivo ritual in the Galleria
Campari was also created in Milan in 1860. The opening of the distillery was followed by the inauguration of the now-legendary Caffè Camparino in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Amongst the iconic products of this brand were the Bitter, the Cordial and the Campari Soda, the first ever single-serve, moderate alcohol aperitif with the iconic conical ‘inverted glass’ bottle designed by the futurist artist Fortunato Depero. In 2010, on the occasion of the company's 150th anniversary, the Galleria Campari was created in the original art deco building in Sesto San Giovanni which was the first Campari factory to be built in 1904. Galleria Campari is part of the exclusive Corporate Museums circuit.
The new names in distillation: Giass, the gin Made in Milan
The first London Dry Gin made in Milan is called Giass, which means ice in Milanese dialect.
Created in 2015, the brainchild of 4 friends and a talented barman, naturally all Milanese, the gin is made with 18 botanicals (including juniper, coriander, angelica, orange, cardamom, mint leaves and dried golden apple) fused with a sophisticated distillation process. GIASS is bottled in elegant silk-screen printed glass inspired by the geometric paving in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, while its logo features the green dragon of the vedovella, the typical Milanese water fountain.