For some time now, the area around Santo Spirito has experienced a new life. It’s not that difficult to understand why: first of all the Brunelleschi basilica is a perfect backdrop for drinking-themed dates, and then because there are infinite cocktail bars and small cafés hidden on the square and in the many alleys nearby that promise just as much infinite fun evenings. But it is a particular place that we want to talk about here, a place a stone’s throw from the square, very hidden and unique: the Rasputin.
The Rasputin is, without too many turns of words, a secret bar, the first place of its kind in Florence, a very mysterious one, with aesthetics suspended between the 1920s speakeasy and a lounge for seances. There are only two others in Italy: 1930 in Milan and Jerry Thomas in Rome. There is no real door but only, in a recess of the wall, a series of sinister crosses and icons hanging on the wall and then, at the height of your hand, a brass bell. You play it, you hear footsteps, a peephole opens. From the opening, two eyes watch you.
The hidden door opens onto a staircase that descends to the bottom. Steps, walls, ceilings, all of a scarlet red, interrupted only by the black and white of the old golden-framed prints on the walls. At the bottom of the stairs, after the velvet drape, you will not be sure to know where you are, whether in the Al Capone’s den or in the Twin Peaks’ Black Lodge. Original vintage furniture, animal skulls, candle-flames dense like oil, shadows, an old piano, a retro music that seems to come from a gramophone decades away…
You sit down and order a drink. Three things from the cocktail list will surprise you: the love for whiskey, the recipes that are at the same time elaborate and simple, based on spirits of great quality with few, essential aromatic touches and, finally, the reinterpretation of the great classics of mixology in a historical key that the head bartender Daniele Cancellara accompanies with the search for the best raw ingredients. Just think that the bottle-shelf alone offers over three hundred labels, of which more than a third consists of a well-stocked selection of whiskey. There’s also a wide choice of sparkling wines, both Italian and French.
The attention to detail extends to the maximum to offer each guest an experience beyond every expectation. Every member of the staff is very well prepared not only on the composition of the cocktails but also on the concept behind every drink, behind every bottle. The daily rotation of the staff between the counter and the room allows you to speak face to face with those who mix and know your drinks and even the barware and ice-making are not left to chance. Rasputin does not just want to make you feel good: it wants to impress itself in your mind.
Its story, its sophisticated drink list and its mood are all pieces that fall together to form a personality, a defined identity and, finally, a clear vision that has guided with a firm hand the minds to work behind the counter. The result? A unique experience in all Florence, an atmosphere that can’t be imitated. And it’s precisely to preserve this atmosphere that you will be invited to put aside your social medias (it hurts, we know) and simply enjoy the immersion in this reality, devoid of Instagram filters and without showers of likes.
When you go back up the stairs, you will cross the door again and, looking around you, you will see the silent streets of Santo Spirito surround you as nothing had changed. You will doubt for a moment (especially after two or three drinks) if you have only dreamed of that bar whose door is closing behind you again or if you have really been in that red cellar, full of shadows and old music, served by white-dressed waiters in the light of candles. You will continue to doubt when you come home, and finally you will return to the same door decorated with ancient crosses and icons, in front of the same brass bell and you will ring again. Who knows who will come to let you in this time?