It’s a well-known fact that in Milan, the aperitif is an institution and the places where you can sip a good drink before dinner aren’t lacking throughout the city, no question. But to experience this ritual in an environment that is unique and rich with tradition, which transpires history and accounts, no place can rival Bar Basso, a true Milanese monument.
It was the first Milanese locale, at the end of the 60s, to introduce the aperitif to the public, which up until then was an exclusive prerogative of the big international hotel lounge bars, and since then it has served drinks to three generations of clients.
From outside the red neon sign that looks like it was written by hand promises a vintage atmosphere. Once you enter you feel like you are transported to another time: wood counter with gold trim, crystal lamps, warm lights, waiters in uniform little tie and all and those little red napkins on the table that immediately bring the 80s to mind.
Don’t expect a happy hour buffet or loud but cheap “appetizers”. Here the aperitif is true to tradition and to the very meaning of the term: drink (and what a drink!) accompanied by nuts, olives and chips to whet your appetite not ruin it.
The cocktails are the undisputed stars of the show, the first being the now legendary Negroni Sbagliato, which emerged right here in 1968, when the famous owner and head barman Mirko Stocchetto used bubbly instead of gin by accident. They serve it with one solid block of oversize ice and a slice of orange in huge glasses 31 centimeters tall, designed by Stocchetto himself and made to order by a Venetian business. It’s a matter of style.
On the other hand, Bar Basso has always been closely tied with the world of design. It’s been a popular haunt for great designers since the 60s, and is still visited by many loyal architects and artists to this day. This is a place you don’t want to miss out on during the days of the Salone del Mobile, when young creators from around the world flood the locale and its surroundings, but it’s just as good when you want an aperitif “like the old days”.