Discovering the most talked about cocktail bars in the Bel Paese
It all began in 1888 in Pennsylvania , when a new law raised the state saloon license fee from $ 50 to $ 500 – the first step towards the era of American Prohibition . The bars lowered their shutters one after the other, but many continued to work illegally, under the stairs, in cramped cellars, in uncomfortable attics, in the back rooms of restaurants and even in barbershops, hidden by secret passages or with separate entrances and exits. The production and sale of alcohol was outlawed in all states of the Union, but Kate Hester, owner of a saloon near Pittsburgh, decided not to comply with the new law and, to avoid that her place could attract the attention of the authorities, when customers raised the tone of voice tamed them whispering: ” Speak easy, boys !” – “Speak softly, guys!” -.
Hence the name given to these clandestine and dusty places, which have arrived to the present day, changing their face. Modern ” secret bars ” or so-called speakeasies , unprecedented outposts of exclusivity, with attention to the smallest details and devoted to the cult of mixology . Finding them is not easy, entering can be even more complex. In many cases, a password is even needed. We have selected the 10 most coveted cocktail bars in Italy : now it’s up to you to find the access key.
JERRY THOMAS SPEAKEASY | ROMA
The ” Professor ” Jerry Thomas , who inspired the place, is the man who in 1862 wrote the first book on the art of mixing cocktails and laid the foundations to transform mixology into a real profession. Hence the choice of the name of the owners of the Roman club: Leonardo Leuci, Antonio Parlapiano and Roberto Artusio. Years of travel, research, study, cultural exchanges, seminars and a lot of determination have allowed Jerry Thomas Speakeasy to enter the “World’s 50 Best Bars” ranking five times. In 2013, after a long and meticulous technical research, the “ Professor’s Vermouth”, The first of a long series of products designed in collaboration with the Quaglia Distilleries. Today the “Jerry” remains a reference point for blending in Italy, continuing to seek, experiment and disseminate their knowledge with the same enthusiasm as in the beginning.
CLUB BEHIND | ROMA
Club Derrière respects the classic and mandatory rule that distinguishes every secret bar that can be defined as such: alcoholic beverages that are not distilled or blended are not served . Signature cocktails come to life among leather sofas and a soft atmosphere. The room has two rooms: one illuminated by the light reflected from the orange wall dedicated to bottles, the second with chairs and armchairs behind which stands a wall bookcase. The drink list kicks off with Big Bang , basically the perfect serve of a single distillate of your choice, and then develops in ascending order of ingredients up to a maximum of five per cocktail.
BACKDOOR43 | MILANO
Cocktail and whiskey bar known to be one of the smallest in the world . BackDoor43 is, in fact, designed to accommodate only two people or, at most, four. Everything was born from the need to create cocktails that can be defined as ” customer-friendly ” in the true sense of the word. The intuition that gave life to this very exclusive and particular concept is by Flavio Angiolillo and Marco Russo, for those from Milan the guys from MAG dei Navigli; it is no coincidence that this small private temple of good drinking is right next to it. It goes without saying that to access this speakeasy it is essential to book. If you are not lucky, you can still consume the drink in take away mode that will be delivered to you through a sort of mailbox by a masked “cocktail man” who calls himself Mr. V., like Vendetta.
1930 | MILANO
The 1930s was born to revive the atmosphere of speakeasies in which Americans gathered with shutters down at the time of prohibition. Once again the co-founders Flavio Angiolillo and Marco Russo have been able to create a cult place of the Milanese nightlife, the engine of additional projects such as the BackDoor43 mentioned above. The setting is surprising: wooden counter, spirits in full view, low lights, waiters with a neat look, vintage glasses and old style details. Drinking in 1930 is an experience that is worth living under one condition: maintaining the confidentiality pact of the place. The address, in fact, is not in the public domain and to find it and enter it is necessary an invitation “granted” in a completely exclusive way to selected patrons of the MAG.
WHITE RABBIT | MILANO
Crossing the threshold you will enter the rabbit hole of Alice in Wonderland and take a step back in time, among magazines, paintings and furnishings typical of the Prohibition period. “If the light is on, ring the bell, you will be surprised …” the engraving on the front door says peremptorily. We are at White Rabbit, precisely in the Isola district, a secret bar with a curious menu: each cocktail is inspired by one of the greatest gangsters in history.
THE MAD DOG SOCIAL CLUB | TORINO
Americano, Vermouth Cocktail, Negroni and Torino Milan. Between great classics and forgotten drinks, here the art of good drinking is made unique by the customization of the recipes . Each drink is tapped directly from the barrels or from the typical glass jars to relive the experience of the ” Vermuterie” of the past. The allure is more that of a “social cellar” than of a speakeasy, but the soft lights, the sophisticated background music and the live jazz sessions give a retro flavor to the service. The room, underground, consists of a first room, large, with red brick barrel vaults and a huge counter. Outside the club you will not find a shop window or even a sign, but only a door, similar to that of other buildings in the center, and a bell. You will need the password to enter.
RASPUTIN | FLORENCE
“Somewhere in the Holy Spirit”. So says the enigmatic welcome phrase that welcomes the curious on the site of this Florentine secret bar. No address, no street number, no possible geo-location. Access to the restaurant is by word of mouth , but once you enter you will see a secret world unfold before your eyes made of paintings, carpets, wooden paneling and the inevitable cocktail glasses. The sign is inspired by the famous Siberian monk , a figure historically divided between spirituality and worldliness, perfect for feeding the curiosity of the world of the night. The cocktail proposal travels along the Twenties coordinates , ranging from great classics, such as Old Fashioned, Aviation, Last Word, and recent innovations such as Dirty Artichoktini.
MALKOVICH | GENOVA
The speakeasy that borrows its name from cinematic suggestions is hidden in the alleys of Genoa : it is called Malkovich and requires a pass. A password? A phone number? A password? We can’t tell you too much, but if you feel the aromas of a great burger in the air you are on the right track. The restaurant is, in fact, located in the basement of an American-inspired burger bar . In the cocktail menu there is no shortage of great classics – each original version is accompanied by a twist – protagonists in the cinema: from the White Russian of the Big Lebowsky to the Margarita of Kill Bill 2, up to the Manhattan prepared by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.
COTTON CLUB | MODENA
A bell to enter and then the warm colors of the wood, the soft light of the candles, the leather sofa, the excellent cocktails. The tables are small, maximum for six people, so the advice is not to go to too many; the peculiarity is found in the live concerts that you can listen to every week while sipping excellent drinks. The soft atmosphere comes alive with live jazz performances, just like in the famous Harlem nightclub , which inspired the name – Cotton Club -, a meeting point in the years of Prohibition. To access it is necessary to have in mind ten fundamental commandments . The first goes like this: the bartender is always right.
THE ANTIQUER | NAPLES
A bar for connoisseurs of mixing. Located in an area historically populated by antique shops, the restaurant is hidden between the San Pasquale district and the Caracciolo seafront, but not invisible to the attentive eye. The spirit of the place pervades the whole experience, from the soft lights to the back counter with mirrors, recalling an air of other times and above all of other places. The place is in fact very nice and evokes a 20-30s style with floral tapestries, leather sofas, red velvet curtains, very soft lighting, Jazz and Swing music. The offer is limited but of absolute quality, the list includes only cocktails and champagne , a sort of excellent niche in continuous experimentation.