Forest is for hunting deer, savanna is for hunting lions, and Milan is for hunting aperitivos. The aperitivo in Milan is a noble sport, many of the viveurs who practice it even collect trophies, such as paper glassholders or business cards – a scene suggestive of poachers hanging deer and tiger skins over the fireplace. Barba, in Via San Gregorio, (same owners of Mag Cafè, Backdoor43 and 1930 Speakeasy) halfway between Piazza Repubblica and the Centrale station, is one of those hunting areas of the world not to be missed.
First of all, the music. In Milan every place strives to stand out, with a result of everyone looking alike. Besides, with how packed it usually is, you don’t even see the interior – only people. Instead, Barba – a minimal location you won’t mistake for anything else – has embraced quite a surprising concept: the love for vinyl. Not only the menu is brought to you in the form of 7-inch vinyls, there is an actual music station complete with turntables and records, where you can choose your favorite songs.
Even with drinking you don’t mess over here. In addition to classic cocktails, made using the finest liquor available, and cocktails on request which you can discuss directly with a mixologist, there are seven cocktails invented by the house. The combinations are well thought out and bold, a perfect choice, if you are in the mood, to discover flavors you’ve never heard of.
The idea behind this amazing offering is the union of distilled spirits and liqueurs with strong tastes, well-blended with bitter natural flavors (they have a lavender and cardamom bitter among others) and fresh and light natural essences. Berries, as well sa mediterranean aromas and citrus fruits are widely used. The choice will be difficult, because not only are these combinations totally unexpected and brilliant, but also faced with such creative variety, you are forced to ponder your options a little longer.
A must try for gin lovers is the amazing Neue Deutsche Welle, a mix of gin Monkey (the recipe that changes annually, adding a different yet recognizable note each year) and Yellow Chartreuse that finds its summer coolness in lemon and sugar with the final twist given by olive oil. Or the Beard Swing, with bourbon, honey, beer and organic cereals.
The aperitivo is simple and minimal, consisting of highest quality prosciutto on bread croutons, but the centerpiece is the parmesan mousse with tomatoes on the side. A simple and light snack, perfectly in line with the spirit of the place. A very classy touch, compared to standardized the offerings of many, even the best bars in town, whose inventiveness leaves much to be desired.
The beautiful feature of Barba is that it is central without the disadvantages of being downtown. Here you won’t find the Brera crowd, nor the chaos of Moscova or Navigli. Via San Gregorio is quiet and secluded, with daylight shining through the windows, and in the evening the setting is perfect for a quality drink in this calm and reserved corner.
All you can do is get armed with curiosity, try and surprise yourself once again by the inexhaustible flow of drinks in Milan, which this summer is heavier than ever.