As every local knows, Milan is the home of the aperitivo – although the expression “Happy Hour” is gaining momentum.
For those unfamiliar, this well-known Italian pastime consists of socialising over pre-dinner drinks and a bite of food. Depending on the venue, this can be on small plates similar to appetizers or charcuterie boards, or a full buffet with drinks. A typical aperitivo menu features famous Italian cocktails such as the Aperol spritz or the Negroni, although there are countless variations. The tradition is an important part of Italian culture, and a visit to any of the following aperitivo venues is a top activity for any trip to Milan.
1. Bar BassoA classic venue for aperitivi in Milan is Bar Basso. Opened in 1947 under owner Mirko Stocchetto, it is considered a traditional spot for locals and visitors. They are famous for their classic Negronis as well as for their own original creation, the Negroni sbagliato – the “wrong Negroni”. The cocktail was created by mistake by one of the bartenders, and their updated version trades the gin for prosecco. The spot averages at around €8 to €10 a drink, and you’ll find it at Via Plinio 39.
2. Mag CafèAnother hotspot for great cocktails is Mag Cafè. Classic drinks such as the Aperol spritz are served with a plate of meats and cheeses for aperitivo. It is also known for its desirable views, located alongside a canal in the popular Navigli night-life district. It is a popular option, especially for outdoor seating in the summer. It is advisable to call ahead for a table during peak pre-dinner hours, though it is open from 09.00 to 01.15. Visit Mag Cafè for a classic aperitivo at Ripa di Porta Ticinese 43.
3. Maya cocktail bar and restaurantIf you’re looking for a different style option, try Maya. There is an extensive buffet with classic Mexican cuisine, and over 100 cocktails to try. The restaurant is also on the Navigli and you can enjoy an aperitivo in outdoor seating with lights. It is inexpensive given the quantity and location, as it costs just €11 for all-you-can-eat aperitivo during the hours from 18.00 to 22.30. It is a good for those looking for affordable aperitivo and/or international cuisine, while still in a lively area. Find it at Via Ascanio Sforza, 41, a particularly busy part of the Navigli district at night and during the summer.
4. Fonderie MilanesiA visit to Fonderie Milanesi, a former foundry, is perfect for a unique atmosphere of urban regeneration. The space has been updated but keeps its interesting industrial interiors, making for a highly instagrammable evening. The outdoor seating in the summer is preferable, especially since it is tucked away in a courtyard and feels removed from the city. They have cocktails available for about €10 with buffet included. Visit Fonderie Milanesi at Via Giovenale 7 for aperitivi from 19.00 to 02.00 Tuesday to Saturday. On Sundays it opens from 12.30 to 15.30 and from 19.00 to 01.00. The space is also available for rent for private parties.
5. Ceresio 7 Pools & RestaurantFor a splurge, make sure to try Ceresio 7 Pools & Restaurant. This modern, upscale venue opened in 2012. It is notable for its modern design and its rooftop terrace, offering panoramic views over the Milan skyline. In the summer, aperitivi are served by the two pools situated on the deck. Because of these amenities, it is on the more expensive end of the spectrum at around €16 per cocktail. Drinks are accompanied by an assortment of foods including croquettes and seasonal cuisine. Find it at Via Ceresio 7, open from 18.30 to 21.00.