Milan has such an amazing cocktail scene and we really had a blast exploring all the different areas and discovering some venues that weren’t on anyone’s radar. Hopefully with this list you’ll be able to make the most of any stay in the city. We know we missed some, but there is only so much even we can drink and with the awesome local hospitality we usually spent an entire evening in the one venue instead of exploring further. I have split the list up into different neighborhoods so you can get an idea of which venues are near each other.
We hung out here quite a bit during the day and it’s a perfect lunch spot with lots of options but the nightlife is where this place really comes alive. Some of Milan’s most famous bars are here and the canal is lined with places to get a drink and people watch.
Backdoor 43 (Instagram)
Backdoor is most definitely one of the coolest bars we’ve ever visited and the cocktails are exactly how you like them; however you like them. This is officially the smallest bar in the world with a capacity of only 4 seats total and you must reserve a specific time to enter and the bar is all yours for an hour and a half. There is no menu here but the bartender will mix you up something amazing after just a few questions. If you can’t get a reservation, pop in and order a to-go cocktail from the small window out the front.
The newest venue from the team behind the famous Mag Café and Backdoor, Iter is a cocktail bar with a more international vibe. You can really find yourself feeling comfortable here with the home-like décor and friendly staff. Although the bar was full we found a small table to relax at and sipped on some delicious cocktails.
We visited Carlo e Camilla on my birthday with my friend Kent who just happened to be in Milan for a work trip with Fernet Branca at the same time. Not only did the staff here make amazing cocktails but they were really sociable and welcoming like old friends. If you find yourself at this cool open space venue you should also plan time in for a meal or small bite, as the food is delicious.
While you’re exploring around during the day you have to try one of the deep fried risotto balls from A’Vucciria. This is a chain place that does takeaway style food and they do it damn well. They could be considered a meal in themselves so I recommend sharing them and the shop also sells some other delicious foods that are worth a try.
As we were staying in the nearby Darsena area across the river we used the Navigli Canal as our running path in the morning before things got busy and on one of the mornings stopped in at Bond for our morning coffee. The drinks and food menu here looked nice but we didn’t make it back as there was so much to do and see in Milan. The coffee was decent though with a great location to sit out on the patio and people watch.
The Navigli Canal is one of the best places to get lunch on a sunny day and Nobis is a good choice for some pasta. I tried the shrimp spaghetti and it was very well prepared, though beware, this restaurant isn’t known for its great restaurant service.
We stayed in this area and it was such a good base from which to discover the rest of Milan. Places like Sakeya weren’t on any list but our AirBnB was just around the corner so we happened to pass by. It is also very close to Navigli so it’s easy to return to after a night out.
We got a lot of great recommendations for Milan from our followers but none of them mentioned Sakeya but after our visit we will definitely send people here. This wonderfully decorated venue is a little Japanese paradise in Milan with over 150 different Sakes. The cocktail list looks amazing though we ended up here at the end of our evening and opted to share a bottle of Sake with Kent instead of imbibing on more cocktails. It was delightful of course!
Pizzeria del Ticinese (Instagram)
OMG… If hunting down a great pizza is on your to-do list then you should also consider a great calzone. We wandered into this little treat by chance and just had to order the Calzone Ticinese, which is a marvelous piece of cooking that you may want to consider splitting.
We all need some breakfast/lunch to keep us going throughout our day and as we were staying nearby Hygge Corner was our local place to hang out and get some work done before trekking around all day. They make a great coffee in an atmosphere that is relaxing and inviting.
La Biciclette (Website)
Another awesome place we found just by wandering around the streets close to our AirBnB. I don’t know what the usual menu looks like really but we stopped in for the Apericena option whereas with the purchase of a cocktail we were able to dine on the open food bar with rotating appetizers. The cocktail options are pretty basic but our Negroni’s were delicious.
La Playa di Taormina (Website)
This was a restaurant recommendation from our AirBnB hosts, which turned out to be pretty great. They serve typical Sicilian fare here and you definitely need to be in the mood for seafood dishes. The staff here don’t really speak very much/any English so you may want to look up the menu ahead of time to get an idea of what you want or just wing it like we did.
If you know anything about Milan then you’ve heard of Piazza del Duomo where it’s impressive cathedral stands proud and beautiful. Surrounding this piazza is the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which houses some cool restaurants and great bars. You’ll end up here as a tourist at some point so why not make the most of it and enjoy a drink.
A stunning establishment which first opened its doors in 1915 was reclaimed by the Campari Group in 2012 and is still slinging amazing Campari cocktails under the new management. With one of the best views on the Duomo you can spend quite a bit of time here enjoying their creative Campari concoctions. The classic Campari & Seltz is a good starter while you peruse the menu.
This was one of our favorite places to get a drink and enjoy aperitivo while taking in the skyline of Milan. We didn’t try the cocktails because we were in the mood for some wine; we noticed they had a good beer list also if that’s your thing.
When we were in Milan we noticed that Sundays are super quiet and I am no expert but I think it’s because they’re super religious there. Anyway it makes for the perfect day to get out and explore their China Town because Sundays are just another day there. There’s good food and most importantly an amazing wine shop that is one of our must visit locations.
Bulk has wonderfully creative cocktails, but what really got our attention was the managers creativity with items typically discarded in a bar. He uses things like the pulp from juiced fruits to create edible garnishes and powders.
Definitely one of the cooler legitimate wine bars in Milan that we came across. This was one of the few places we just had to go back to when our friend Kent came to town. They have hundreds of different wines from all around and sell them by the bottle or by the glass. If you find something you like on the shelves they will open it up for you and you can drink it right there while nibbling on the snacks on the bar.
Ravioleria Sarpi (Instagram)
There are actually two small takeaway stores very close to each other with different offerings of ravioli (dumplings), bao buns and something like a pancake. Whatever you end up with it will be delicious and there is also an A’Vucciria (above) right next door if you want something different.
Zona Buenos Aires
We actually wandered up towards this part of town because someone told us to check out Drinc. and when we were checking it out we also noticed Bar Basso was nearby. There’s not a whole lot else to do here but it’s worth checking out and is the closest area to the central train station.
If you consider yourself a serious cocktail enthusiast then Bar Basso should not be missed. Don’t expect anything fancy like the other bars in the area as this place has been around since 1947 and found its fame in the late 1960’s when the new bar owner Mirko Stocchetto accidentally created the Negroni Sbagliato (wrong Negroni), using Prosecco in the place of gin. Men’s Journal has a great article about it.
Drinc. was a really cool bar with a great aesthetic, creative cocktails, and most importantly; amazing garnishes. It was a really cool experience to sit at the bar and talk with them about the Milanese cocktail scene while watching them meticulously add the garnishes to our cocktails.
If you need a pick me up and find yourself in the area Pavè is a great spot to get your fix. The internet is great here to sit down and do some work or travel research.
Orsonero Coffee (Instagram)
For more serious coffee there’s Orsonero, where the staff are pretty geeky about their coffee and you can get some good drip or espresso depending on how you like it.
A few bars in Milan aren’t really close to any particular cluster of other venues but that doesn’t mean they should be missed. These bars are only a short Uber or walk from the city center and well worth a visit.
I have posted a few times about The Spirit on my account because the bar is so elegantly designed and I had such an amazing time there; just one drink turned into an entire evening really quickly. The staff are amazing and we even got to try some rare Italian products, such as a vermouth from Modena where they age the vermouth in old balsamic vinegar barrels. The cocktails are all delicious of course and I highly recommend sitting at the bar and getting the bartender to mix you up something special.
This Tiki inspired cocktail lounge was one of the busiest bars in Milan, which I assume can be attributed to their creative cocktail list and fun vibe. They have received a lot of reviews for their TV Series cocktail menu from which I ordered the Dexter and it was absolutely creepy, creative and delicious. The team even goes as far as to supply you with a latex glove and knife to slice open the cocktail allowing the blood (grenadine) to spill into the concoction and mix together to finish off the cocktail.
It’s a secret.
1930 Speakeasy (Instagram)
I would love to tell you where 1930 Speakeasy is and how to get in but that would just ruin it for everyone else, it is really exciting when you come across a legitimate speakeasy these days. This place is accessible by invite only and I would say the best way to get one is to head to one of the other bars on the list and chat to the staff, if they judge you to be worthy I’m sure they will be able to make the appropriate introductions; that’s how we got in. The cocktail menu when we were there was amazing and Benji spoke to us a little about the upcoming menu concept and it sounded just as good if not better. You won’t be disappointed here and you can even hang out in the downstairs war bunker that has been converted into the smoking lounge.