The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Milan

When it comes to cocktails in Milan, the dominant style is the aperitivo, a light beverage traditionally consumed before dinner alongside a supporting cast of snacks. While this appetite-whetting ritual is still a pillar of the city’s nightlife, a growing number of bars and restaurants have embraced an international approach to cocktails, offering far more than the traditional Spritz and transforming spirited concoctions into the main event. —Katie Parla

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    Bar Basso

    Maurizio Stocchetto's Bar Basso is aglow in gilded fixtures and mirrored walls. The place is a veritable time capsule, and the décor and glassware have changed little since the Stochetto family took over the bar in 1967 (it was founded 3 decades earlier). Bar Basso is the reputed birthplace of the Negroni Sbagliato, which was invented when Mario’s father Mirko replaced Negroni’s gin with Prosecco. The light aperitif, as well as many others, are served in enormous vintage goblets made by Venetian artisans. The clientele is a cross-section of Milanese culture: Fashion editors cross town to visit the institution, while ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • outdoors / patio
    • bar food
    • day drinking
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    Carlo e Camilla

    Set within a defunct sawmill, Carlo & Camilla in Segheria is helmed by MasterChef judge, Michelin-starred chef and all-around food celebrity Carlo Cracco. The restaurant is composed of a large industrial space with intersecting communal tables set below high ceilings and suspended chandeliers. The adjacent cocktail bar is a great deal more intimate, and serves drinks that barman Filippo Sisti dubs “cucina liquida.” In other words, he sees cocktails as an extension of cooking and applies culinary techniques such as baking and pan-frying to his drink components, which are the most avant-garde in town.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of tequila/mezcal
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    Dry

    Dry opened in 2013 across the street from sister restaurant Pisacco, a popular bistro and aperitivo bar that shares the same industrial chic décor (a feature of more than a few Milanese bars). Dry, however, distinguishes itself with its menu, serving thick-rimmed Neapolitan-style pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven. The pizzeria is preceded by a constantly crowded craft cocktail bar that doles out both classics and inspired drinks.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • full menu
    • lots of tequila/mezcal
    • lots of whiskey
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    Nottingham Forest

    Milan’s landmark cocktail bar serves a dizzying array of cocktails, drawing influence from everything from molecular gastronomy to contemporary art. The bar is decked out like a pirate’s lair, and the walls are filled with bric-à-brac collected from all over the globe. The extensive cocktail list is similarly eclectic, and Dario Comini, the bar’s owner, infuses Nottingham Forrest’s offerings with a signature molecular touch.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of tequila/mezcal
    • bar food
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    Rita & Cocktails

    Just off the Naviglio Grande canal, Rita & Cocktails has been a point of reference for serious cocktail drinkers since it opened in 2002. The extensive menu, which is spiked with cocktail history, catalogues more than a decade of original inventions from the Rita team listed alongside cocktails inspired by other bars and bartenders. The place is popular from aperitivo hour (beginning at 6:30 p.m.) until late, and the crowds start to roll in early, so turn up at opening time for the best chance of finding a seat.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • bar food
    • outdoors / patio
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    The Botanical Club

    This bistro and bar is home to Italy’s first gin distillery. Initially, The Botanical Club simply offered an array of gin-based, herb-driven cocktails made from 50 or so labels, but this past summer owners Davide Martelli and Alessandro Longhin distilled their first batch of gin in the copper still that overlooks the dining room. The Botanical Club’s bar serves drinks to complement the kitchen’s contemporary creations at the table, but welcomes bar customers eager for an aromatic cocktail.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
  • 7

    Ugo

    Named for a northern Italian aperitif, Ugo serves craft cocktails in a dimly-lit set of rooms with a turn-of-the-century Parisian vibe and an outdoor patio just off the Naviglio Grande. Though the menu features a range of craft cocktails, the emphasis is on gin, and there are 40 labels and counting—a large selection by both local and global standards.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • bar food
    • outdoors / patio

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