Food and drink

Aperitivo time in Milan

October 26, 2022

Alongside its passion for fashion and design, Milan is a city that adores aperitivo time. This much-loved pre-dinner ritual of drinks and light bites is how locals like to start their evening. Let bar manager Daniele Confalonieri be your guide.
Retro bike with a basket in the city center

Where it all began

Turin was the first Italian city to embrace the art of elegant drinking in 1786, and its popularity soon spread to Milan. The original idea was based on medicinal drinks designed to increase your appetite, but with some visionary mixing the recipes gradually became less medicinal and more social. Famous Italian blenders, including Ausano Ramazzotti and Gaspare Campari, began experimenting with different ingredients and perfected new concoctions, including their famous red amaros.

Lasting impression

From these early aromatic, herby bitters and liqueurs came the ones that remain eternally popular, including Ramazzotti, Campari and Martini. In fact the slogan of Amaro Ramazzotti for many years was, “Milan is positive, optimist, efficient; Milan is for living, dreaming, enjoying.” A wonderful way to sum of the city’s love of aperitivo.

Principe Bar detail of aperitif
Bartender making a Negroni

A fortunate mistake

As the Milanese aperitivo experience evolved, cocktails such as the Negroni and Perseghetto became increasingly popular. One day in 1967, this evolution took a different turn in Milan when barman Mirko Stocchetto accidently added prosecco instead of gin when making a Negroni. His customer liked it so much it became a new drink in its own right known as Sbagliato, the Italian word for mistake.

Italy’s happy hour

Today aperitivo is what many locals look forward to the end of their working day. Lasting anywhere between 5pm and 9pm, it’s a great excuse to get together with friends, family and colleagues. It’s usual when you order your drink, be it a glass of wine, a spritz or a cocktail, that you also receive complimentary finger food, small pizzas or access to a buffet. This act of generosity transforms a simple after-work drink into an occasion.

Two cocktails and canapè at Principe Bar
A smily portrait of the manager at Principe Bar

Aperitivo at Principe Bar

Our very own Principe Bar at Hotel Principe di Savoia is widely considered one of the places to be in Milan for aperitivo. Designer Thierry Despont’s magical touch has created an opulent setting, enhanced by Mimmo Rotella’s eye-catching artworks. We’re known for our party-like atmosphere, especially during Milan Fashion Week. My team and I pride ourselves on offering both well-known cocktails and our own signature creations, such as the popular Principe Anniversary, Milanese Caipiriña and Savoia Tonic.

The Principe Bar has always been the place to be in Milan, especially during Fashion Week. The atmosphere here feels inviting and glamorous, reflecting the true spirit and vibe of the city.

Daniele Confalonieri Bar Manager

Drinks in the city

Away from the hotel, you can find lots of other aperitivo spots around Milan in which to start your evening. Whether you’re a traditionalist looking for the perfect Negroni or prefer to be more experimental and try something new, there’s a bar for you. When I’m not at Principe Bar, other city favourites I recommend include Rita & Cocktails, which is a landmark for modern mixology; The Botanical Club, the holy grail for gin lovers; and Mag Cafè’, a wonderfully cosy and romantic spot.

Bridge across the Naviglio Grande Canal at sunset, Milan

The atmosphere of our beautiful Principe Bar is always warm and welcoming – we hope you’ll decide to relax and enjoy a drink or two with us next time you’re in Milan.

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