The aperitivo is a Milan invention that visitors are wise to adopt during their time in Italy. This tradition takes place in the early evening when locals and visitors alike gather around the city’s most popular restaurants and bars for a cocktail and light snack. While traditional aperitivos include a complimentary buffet of small plates, keep in mind that this is not the time to load up or overindulge. Adopt the Italian approach instead and nibble lightly as you savor the flavors at these popular spots.
Radetzky – For a Visual Buffet
Radetzky features a distinctive architectural design that will give you plenty to feast your eyes on as you enjoy your aperitivo. A popular spot for designers and architects for just this reason, Radetzky boasts an atmosphere unlike any other with Parassina stone floors and specially designed furnishings.
Drinks begin flowing at 7 p.m., and this popular destination only gets busier as the night wears on. Choose from classics like Negroni and Spritz or indulge in more modern Long Drinks. Outdoor seating offers the perfect spot to people watch and absorb the lively atmosphere of this Brera gathering spot.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily
Address: Corso Garibaldi 105, Milano
Rebelot – Where the Unconventional Reigns
Rebelot is a hipster hot spot in the Navigli area of Milan. Mixologist Oscar Quagliarini keeps the menu fresh with a diverse selection of innovative drink options. Quagliarini adds his own signature perfumes and syrups to many of the drinks, so their aroma is as intoxicating as the taste. The Garden Sazerac features “le petit jardin” homemade perfume to transport you to a sunny garden as you sip, while the “Anako mer sauvage” perfume adds a refreshing jolt of wild sea air to the Terramare Ginto.
Unlike traditional aperitivo locations, Rebelot does not offer a buffet or happy hour. Expect to pay for your plates if you want a snack with your drinks. However, you can order 3, 5, or 7 small plates for less than the à la carte price when you leave the selection up to the experienced Chef Matteo Monti. Truly a journey for the senses, this unforgettable experience is something you should try at least once during your time in Milan.
Hours: Closed on Tuesday; noon to midnight Sunday; 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. all other days
Address: Ripa di Porta Ticinese 55, Milano
La Vineria – For Wine Lovers in Milan
La Vineria doesn’t offer the usual spread that comes with a Milan aperitivo, but its simple approach is a refreshing change. La Vineria specializes in serving loose wine and olive oil straight from large tanks in the cellar. Locals come with empty containers and enjoy the earth-friendly approach along with low farmhouse prices. If you’re not equipped with your own jug, you can cozy up to the small bar and enjoy La Vineria’s flavors by the glass for as little as one euro.
Though you won’t find an extensive buffet here, small plates are available to complement your drink, and a few bites of meat or cheese are all you’ll need for a satisfying aperitivo here.
Hours: April through October, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday; 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday/November through March, 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
Address: Via Casale 4, Milano
Pavè – The Best Pasticceria in Milan
Pavè is best known for its baked goods and mouth-watering breakfast menu, but its aperitivo is a lesser-known gem that’s just as decadent. If you’re booking a hotel in this part of Milan, you may just want to make Pavè a daily stop. While you’re sure to find a long wait in the morning for a rich coffee and hot croissant, an afternoon visit will help you avoid some of the crowds.
The aperitivo menu at Pavè features several signature cocktails including Negroni, Mi-To, Biancosarti, Bianco Amaro, andZucca. You can snack on olives, crisps, and nuts as you sip your beverage of choice, but with the irresistible aroma of fresh bread in the air, it’s almost impossible not to splurge on a small plate. The focaccia is particularly delicious, but the salty brioche and fresh tarts may tempt you as well.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Address: Via Felice Casati 27, Milano
Rita & Cocktails – Where Drinks Are Made to Please
Rita & Cocktails, also known simply as Rita’s, is a local favorite where you can slide up to the bar, offer a general description of what you’re after, and receive a specialty cocktail that’s guaranteed to please. Though the bar gets crowded later in the evening, you can enjoy a quiet aperitivo if you arrive before 10. Enjoy a spread of crudites, crisps, and stuffed focaccia with your early drinks.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Address: Via Angelo Fumagalli, Milano
Bar Basso – Where History Was Made
Bar Basso is famously known as the location where the Negroni Sbagliato was born. Owner Mirko Stocchetto created the drink, which translates to “incorrect Negroni,” by using prosecco instead of the gin used in a classic Negroni. Bar Basso also claims the distinction of being the first bar in Milan to introduce the aperitif, making it an essential stop if you want a taste of history along with your cocktail.
The Bar Basso cocktail menu features more than 500 choices. Complimentary olives, chips, and miniature sandwiches complete the aperitivo experience. The atmosphere is more hip than friendly, and drinks are on the pricier end, but it’s worth a brief visit for the iconic appeal.
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 1:15 a.m. daily
Address: Via Plinio 39, Milano
You should include at least one aperitivo in your visit to Milan, but don’t be surprised if the ritual charms you into repeating it every night of your stay. There’s no better way to absorb the Milanese culture than to partake in this beloved evening escape.