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Il Bel Paese is home to pizza, pasta, great wine but also cocktails. Without Italian ingredients such as vermouth, bitters and liqueurs, it would be impossible to make classic cocktails such as the Aviation, Hanky Panky, Manhattan, Negroni and Boulevardier.
Although the most historic Italian bars are found in Milano and Torino, the last few years has seen a boom in quality cocktails bars in the capital city of Rome, but also all around the country, from the Italian Alps in the North, to the sun-soaked beaches in Apulia and Sicily.
To help you find the highest quality cocktail bars in the country, we at Flawless have come up with the definitive top 10 list. You can do no wrong picking any bar at random on this list – you will find not only world-class cocktails, but also an inspiring ambiance and warm hospitality.
Piano 35 Lounge Bar, Torino
Corso Inghilterra, 3
Making a move back to Torino from Milano, Mirko Turconi opened the beautiful lounge bar Piano 35 on the 35th floor of the Intesa San Paolo skyscraper. On a nice day, the lounge bar offers stunning vistas of the city. But instead of gazing at the Torinese skyline, pay attention to the talented Mirko behind the bar, one of the best bartenders in the country. The highlight of his drink list is Smoked Flower with a Scotch whisky mix, Vermouth Dopo Teatro Cocchi, Sherry Pedro Ximenez, flower liqueur, Bittermens Burlesque bitters, and a tobacco smoked cherry. This savory cocktail will have you begging Mirko to make you another one.
Via Andegari, 9
The Mandarin Oriental Milano is one of the sexiest hotel bars in the world and offers one of the best cocktail lists around, thanks to head mixologist Teo Rizzolo. One of the most interesting drinks on the menu is the Campari Lassi with Campari bitter, goat milk, Panizzi yogurt and Cardamom. Lassi is an Indian yogurt-based drink and the addition of Campari adds a pleasant bitterness to the savory beverage, traditionally used for digestion after a big meal. For the best Martini in Milano, try the Laverstoke Mill Martini, presented in a beautiful custom designed glass with Star of Bombay gin, Noilly Prat vermouth infused with Bergamot and tonka bean.
To those in the know, 1930 is no longer a secret. But four years since the speakeasy’s inauguration, the magical elements that give this bar its charm remain: the coveted membership and platinum cards, mysterious entrance, antique furniture and romantic lighting. Beyond the mesmerizing ambiance at 1930, the cocktails are superb, with the current list being the best since the speakeasy’s conception. The favorites include the warm and comforting Xibalda made with the blue blazer method and featuring Don Julio Tequila, Ron Zacapa 23, Kaffir Lime, Citrus and Water, Chilli Pepper Aji limo, Demerara sugar and Chocolate and the savory Lighthouse of Spain with brandy, peach and fino sherry, beeswax, wood and smoked salt.
NU Lounge Bar, Bologna
Via de’ Musei, 6
NU Lounge Bar is one the best tiki bars on the planet thanks to mastermind Daniele Dalla Pola who has refreshed the popular cocktail bar format to come up with the most fun bar in Italy. NU Lounge has world class drinks, friendly staff and a vibe that attracts the coolest people of Bologna. All your favorite tiki cocktails are here including Nu Grog (a twist on the Navy Grog), Mai Tai and Zombie. To finish off the night, try one of their social drinks in family size format! You’ll be sure to leave with a smile on your face!
Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, Roma
Vicolo Cellini, 30
Why is Jerry Thomas Italy’s only bar on the coveted World’s 50 Best Bars? It’s quite simple – this is the sexiest cocktail bar in Italy. From the moment you make it past the mysterious but intimidating door ritual, this bar will blow you away with its beauty and charm. The wallpaper, the couches, the bar, the bathroom, the waitresses – everything here is eye candy. The staff do a great job managing this often-packed little speakeasy and the 3 barmen work wonders in their cramped stations behind the bar. Other than the stellar drinks on the menu, venture off menu, for well made classics and concoctions tailor made for your palate by the talented bar team.
La Punta Expendio de Agave, Roma
Via Santa Cecilia, 8
Upon entering the brightly lit La Punta, your eyes will be immediately drawn to the outdoor patio-style light bulbs running along the ceiling, giving you the feeling that you’re in a cocktail bar in Mexico city. Despite this tacky design element, the bar area is beautiful, with well lit bottle racks and a sleek tiled bar counter. Upstairs is the casual drinking and eating area while downstairs you’ll find a couple surprises. Ask bar manager Cristian Bugiada to give you a tour of the magical basement area. The signature drink at La Punta is the silky and smoky Mala Education with mezcal, grapefruit juice, rhubard, agave honey, habanero bitter and egg white.
Via Vannella Gaetani, 2
Antiquario is a beautiful speakeasy that first opened its doors in November 2015. The bartenders at Antiquario are appropriately dressed in elegant barman uniforms – allow them to prescribe the perfect elixir to suit your palate. The signature drink at L’Antiquario is the earthy and elegant La Risposta (The Answer) and features 45 mL bourbon and orange bitters, with the rest of the concoction being made in Italy, having 20 mL Amaro Lucano from Pisticci, Basilicata and 20 mL Liquore Strega from Benevento, Campania.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Another mysterious-looking speakeasy, this time among the ancient streets of the Oltrarno, in one of the coolest neighborhoods in Europe, where you will be drinking under a brick cross vault. The periodic rotation of the staff between the counter and the hall will allow you to know who is preparing drinks, and know all the details about them. Even barware and ice making are not left to chance. The head bartender, Daniele Cancellara, will propose recipes at the same time elaborate and simple, based on spirits of great quality with few, essential, wise aromatic touches and, finally, the reinterpretation of the great classics of mixology in an historical key.
Via delle Seggiole, 12/R
Inside a beautiful Renaissance palace, this bar aims very high already starting from its aesthetics. A large central counter around which the entire environment is organized, plants and colonnades, soft lights. Cocktails are a prodigy of creativity not only in substance, that is in the blends and their ingredients, but also in the form of their aesthetic presentation, absolutely original and brilliant. All the result of the deep knowledge and the great research carried out by a close-knit team that wanted to create, for its customers, an experience that goes beyond that of the classic cocktail bar.
Vico Boemondo, 26
Marco Fabbiano, ex-bartender of 1930 Milano recently opened Laurus, in the historical center of Lecce. Marco is clearly aiming for a high end experience, with vintage furniture, a beautiful bar counter, sophisticated cocktails and a spectacular backbar. The signature drink on the first cocktail list is the Black Diamond, with mezcal, lime juice, black avocado shrub, Strega, dark beer and a crust of black salt. It’s intense, sour and complex – an absolute must when visiting Marco’s bar.