Friday, September 08, 2023

Eating and drinking in Milan: your favourite bars in Milan

Eating and drinking in Milan: your favourite bars in Milan 

 Top spots for an aperitivo, from a rooftop eyrie to a secret speakeasy and a flower shop that moonlights as a watering hole. Cin cin!

A negroni at Camparino in Galleria, Milan 


“Alle otto, da oTTo” (“at eight, at oTTo”): that’s when and where I always meet my best friend for our couple (or more) catch-up drinks and bites whenever I fly back home to Milan from London for the weekend. You will find this plant-filled, laid-back and unapologetically cool little bar where you may least expect it, in the heart of bustling Chinatown. Get off the tram or the metro at Moscova and take a short walk past dumpling-stuffed windows all the way to oTTo, with its wooden chairs and tables full of friends and couples of all ages animatedly chatting over a glass of Aperol, craft beer, organic wine or freshly squeezed juice.
My personal unwind favourite is a simple glass of white organic wine for €6. They change the selection every now and then, but I hope the Passerina or Pecorino will be available on your visit. My best friend is quintessentially Milanese, meaning she will always go for a spritz no matter what, but even she gives in to my wine enthusiasm when we meet there. Food-wise, their menu changes a few times a month, and you can order several Italian bites with a twist.
The essence of oTTo is that it is so Milan. People are rolling small cigarettes in small brown smoking papers out of their small brown tobacco pouches; everybody is gossiping about somebody, potentially about the person sitting two tables away; everyone is dressed with one item from the penny store and one from vintage couture and something last seen at Milan Fashion Week; and everything is so unbothered and exquisite. Top added value: there is no way you will end up spending more than €25–€30 unless you are a on a bender. Top-secret tip: if you go there during the day, the super WiFi means you can work amid the plants, and it will likely be just you and a few hipster designer guys editing skateboard-pattern prints on MacBooks. Website; Directions

— Cristiana Sandeva, journalist, London and Milan  

Mag Cafe

This bar in the Navigli district on the canal makes incredible cocktails. Very cool, old-timey place. Best whisky sour I have ever had in my life! It is also open during the day and serves coffee and pastries. Website; Directions
— Lauren Holloway, analyst, Wellington, New Zealand 

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè

At the risk of it being taken over by tourists, I’d be remiss not to mention Fioraio Bianchi Caffè. Partly because I believe they will be able to politely and eloquently manage admission in order to forever cater to their locals.
Whether from the worlds of banking or fashion, the well-heeled of Milan descend upon Fioraio Bianchi for a cocktail of their choice — mine was a negroni sbagliato — and a debrief with friends before heading home.
A true Milanese aperitivo is served with snacks; here you are given potato chips, olives and assorted focaccia. Italians don’t limit carbs, not even here. Eat the chips — they pair perfectly and equally with both the drinks and the conversation. During the day it’s a flower shop too. You have a bit of privacy between the tables, but don’t be fooled into looking around. Most likely everyone here knows each other somehow and you would be the only one trying to take in the scene. Website; Directions
— Jennifer Laine Van Beek, start-up founder, New York 

Camparino in Galleria 

© Melania Dalle Grave, Dsl Studio From this iconic bar, you can look out towards the Duomo while absorbing the beauty of this 108-year-old venue, a testament to quintessential Milanese chic.
Upon entering is the Bar di Passo and an outdoor seating area overlooking the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Art Nouveau decor, wooden counters, chandeliers and vibrant mosaics will seize your attention. It is the perfect spot for a swift breakfast, a quick drink or to savour an aperitif.
The upper level houses the Spiritello room, dedicated to mixology and culinary offerings. Whether you’d like a classic negroni or want to try [a reinterpretation of it called] L’Ora del Bitter, Camparino caters to all tastes. Website; Directions
— Anastasia Avramenko, journalist, Milan and Paris 

Surfer’s Garden 

Having lived in Milan for 13 years, I’ve been exploring every corner of this wonderful city. My brilliant tip for a spring/summer aperitivo or drinks would be Surfer’s Garden, in southern Milan, close to Bocconi University.
It is perfect if you’re on the hunt for a quiet place, off the beaten track, with chilled vibes and entirely surrounded by a ravishing garden. Everything is done and thoroughly curated by the founders (Irene and Yuri), who will do everything possible to make you feel at ease and get rid of the stresses of the day.
I’m that much in love with this place that I’ve decided to hold my birthday drinks there, for the second year in a row. Website; Directions
— Gianluca C, M&A banker, Milan

Bar Quadronn

The ultimate destination for a savoury panino. This wood-panelled bar is the place to go from early morning to past midnight. Perfect non-fuss bread with a combination of cold cuts and an aperitivo to accompany your meal. All in all a historic location with a stylish crowd to match. From bankers to fashionistas, everyone wants a bite. Website; Directions
— Kyriakos Koronaios, fashion retail, Milan and Athens 

Radio Rooftop Bar

An aperitivo at Radio Rooftop Bar in the ME Milan Il Duca hotel. A super space, especially during sunset and at night while viewing the city skyline with great drinks. Website; Directions
— Julanda Marais, wellness project creator, Geneva
La Fontanella
La Fontanella in Navigli is an off-the-beaten track place. It’s a pub that serves a range of different European beers in a wonderfully diverse set of glasses, from standard to the crazy (check out the “Kraken”). Reasonably priced and just on the canal. Directions 

— Chris Chynoweth, lawyer, New York 

Allow me to introduce you to an exclusive haven in vibrant Milan — the elusive Bar 1930. This establishment combines the mystique of the American Prohibition era with contemporary sophistication. Behind its discreet façade are dim lighting, exposed brickwork and a select menu that goes beyond the ordinary. Rather than sticking to the usual offerings, its mixology is a symphony of flavours and innovation, creating cocktails that redefine the art of drinking. Admission is a privilege that requires instructions from related establishments such as Mag Café [see above]. It is an invitation to all who seek an exceptional drinking experience that goes beyond expectations and celebrates the art of enjoyment. Website; secret location 

— Lorenzo Manganelli, finance intern, Milan  

Birrificio Lambrate Birrificio Lambrate is THE brewery in Milan. Its first venue opened in 1996 on Via Adelchi, followed by a resto-pub on Via Golgi in 2011. It really feels like a big family, and customers range from students to workers, all looking for an easy-going place to spend time with friends and sometimes sing along with whatever the staff feel like playing. Most of the beers have names strongly linked with the city of Milan, like its first ever beer Montestella, named after the artificial hill in Milan made from the debris of the second world war, or Sant’Ambroeus (“Santa” for short) — the name of the patron saint of Milan in the local dialect. You can enjoy them dentro (inside) or fuori (outside), where most people go — especially in summer — to catch up after a day at work or at uni. Website; Directions
— Giulio M, consultant, Zürich