Cocktails: Italian Style


Long time no the English say.

Sorry about that, but I've had a busy couple of weeks with visits from my sister and boyfriend (3 days between them). I will blog (soon) about all that entailed, I'm talking trips to Bergamo, Lake Garda, Venice, Rome, a dodgy hotel and nearly getting stuck in Monza- but first I want to go back a bit, before my life got a bit crazy and I was still attempting to make a life for myself here in Italy.

Part of this, inevitably involved some kind of alcohol.

But before you judge-I have in no way been up to my crazy old student ways (not that I can be considered crazy anyway).

Having mostly made friends with Italians (points for me for getting down with the natives!?) they just don't have the same attitude to drink as we do...even the students!

Ok, so one week I may have gone out 3 nights in a row BUT 2 out of 3 were very casual affairs indeed and here's why:

1). When Italians go out for drinks they just go for ONE.
2). They go out with absolutely no intention of getting drunk/smashed/ending up in a bush
3). They don't even go out with the intention of going to a club after.

So this one Cocktail business, how exactly does  it work?

Well, they wait until everyone has arrived-which could take a while-before ordering the said Cocktail (usually it is a Cocktail, even for the guys). They drink it leisurely, chatting for hours, pure and simply enjoying each other's company.

Kind of a better idea don't you think?

And me being a poor student, of course I've got to mention that it's also cheaper. 7 euros for a night with some friends (average price of Cocktails round here, after aperitvo-italian's version of Happy Hour) isn't bad at all.

So one evening, my Italian friend V. invited me along in classic last  minute Italian style to some drinks. We got in the CAR *gasp of horror* to drive to the cocktail place. I haven't quite worked out the whole drinking and driving thing yet... I mean I'm pretty sure it's allowed... if you just have one?Maybe the limit is different to in England, but everyone seems to do it and not be worried at all.

The place that we went to just wouldn't work in England for exactly that reason. The only way to get to it is by car.
It was in the middle of nowhere, hidden down a road in a town with lots of fields. I had serious doubts there could be any kind of cocktail place down there. But low and behold, there was a bar with tables and music set in an old, open barn.

Source :La Fate Verde Facebook Page


It was totally different to the cramped/dingy bars I am used to and it was so nice to be able to sit outside in the fresh air.
It's just a shame the cocktails weren't that great. I decided to try a Long Island Iced -Tea, managing to steer away from my usual Sex on the Beach as part of my being abroad and trying all things new and that. Unfortunately it just tasted like Jack Daniels and coke...

BUT on the brighter side, we stopped off at crazy Uncle Zaino's truck (or it might have been Uncle Ziano I'm not entirely sure, but either way, one means Rucksack and one means Elder - according to google translate) to have a late night Panino.

And boy was it good! This wasn't just any old Panino. Oh no...

This was a soft pitta stuffed with tender pork, peppers, courgettes, smothered in smoked Scamorza cheese (I go crazy for this cheese and so would you if you tried it)and oozing with a spicy chilli sauce.
Honestly I think it was the BEST THING I've EVER tasted (I'm not even exaggerating a teeny bit).  I'd choose that over a kebab any day.

The picture doesn't really do it justice...
Another evening and another Italian Cocktail experience. This time we piled into the car and headed for Milan: Sempione.

They told me it was the place to be; everyone comes here to drink under the Arch. I was curious.

We parked and wandered towards the bars that lined the street to the Arco della Pace at the far end of the Sempione Park.

The street was buzzing, the party atmosphere palpable as hard working Italians kicked back with their Spritz's and Negroni's.

We passed a bar that was full of suave young men in crisp shirts and sleek suits, entertaining stylish young women. Definitely not where we were headed!

But that's the great thing about this street, there's something for everyone because just across from here, is a place where you can get a Cocktail for 5 euros. Oh , and by the way they're VERY VERY strong. It's definitely possible to get drunk from just one here. Also because they give you a shot for free.

How could I resist a freebie?

But I should have because I could feel the sambuca burning, churning away in my stomach for at least 10 minutes after. Doesn't help when italian "Shots" are English doubles.

After we (and I say we because I wasn't the only one) recovered, we took our Cocktails and went to drink them by the arch...


On the street.

Such a lovely place to sip a yummy, if a tad strong, Capiroska alla Fragola (strawberry).

Ok so this wasn't the actual one but here's what one looks like.

Why can't England do this... I'll tell you why: because we'd go crazy and get drunk and start fights.

Oh England, when will you ever learn.

Which brings me on to my slightly more English experience of Cocktails in Milan.

Nottingham Forest

This section deserves it's own heading because this place is just AMAZING. No exaggeration, for reals. I mean I was drinking from a mug that looked like a piece of tribal pottery, complete with a toasted marshmallow and an intriguing wooden box containing none other than a condom.

And that was just the beginning of what would turn out be a crazy night...

So how did I get to be having an aperitivo at this crazy cocktail bar with two complete strangers?

One afternoon a notification popped up on my Facebook from the group for expats in Milan. 
"anyone want to do something this weekend?". 

If I was in England, going to meet a group of strangers in a city that you don't know that well would be a massive no no. Stranger Danger and all that, but here,  in the mentality of  "I'm on my year abroad I should try everything" and in the interests of meeting new people, I thought perche' non?

Sure, I was nervous... but those moments when everything turns out to be just fine and you feel really glad that you went, despite it terrifying you ,are really awesome.

BUT a word of warning. It is always further away than you think AND if there is public transport to get there- USE IT! (I got VERY lost in Milan. Google maps, I'm sorry but you were completely useless).

It's over in Porta Venezia which didn't look too far at first....
So after turning up about half an hour late (but I'm in Italy so ya know that's kind of expected) and doing the whole kiss on the cheek greeting thing, which was kind of strange because we were English (and Australian) I opened the menu.

Oh my god.

I was confronted with pages upon pages of Cocktails and I'm not talking about your usual Martinis, Margaritas or  Mojitos but some crazy concoctions they had invented themselves. I don't remember everything because there was just so much, but just to give you an idea, I remember reading one that came in a syringe and at the table behind there was a woman sipping from a mini bath tub.

The other two ladies had already chosen, but had very kindly and as seems to be the way here, waited for me to arrive before ordering. Beginning to panic at the insane vastness of the menu I quickly asked what they were having.

A "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives": They had chosen from the TV theme section. That seemed like a safe option so I decided to try a "Sex and the City". This is what arrived:

Just look at the excitement on my face!
Not only was it the COOLEST cocktail I've had in my life but it was also VERY yummy and VERY strong. The perfect combination really.
The "Desperate Housewives" Cocktail (That pink thing is a thong btw)
I am very grateful for Italians having decided that it's a good idea to eat something while you drink to soak it all up.
The bubbling concoction that was "Lost", complete with Toy  Plane!
Mind = Blown

Aperitivo here starts at 6.30 pm and if you pay and leave before 9pm it's only 10 euros. While this is a little more expensive than most places in Milan, as you can see from the pics, it's definitely worth it!

.As I said before, Italians usually only have the one, but we are not and therefore our night was not over yet.

Next stop colonne. Another great place to head to for Cocktails in Milan.

You buy a Cocktail from a nearby bar (around 5 euros, no food this time) and go and sit under the columns., like a local.

It's a really great atmosphere with the small area filled with people chilling and chatting and listening to music.
You've just got to watch out for the Zanzare (mosquitos), those pesky things.

This was supposed to be my last stop before going home, because due to the fact that I live in a little town outside Milan, the public transport doesn't really let you party the night away. Reluctantly, I started to make my way home, with the other two ladies accompanying me on my way. Only, I never made it home because as we were waiting for the said to me "do you fancy having another and staying at mine tonight?".

My slightly fuzzy head said yes and before I knew it I was on my way to a bar near her house.
We talked (I'll admit I can't really remember what about), I tried my first Mosco Mule (so good!), the heavens opened and we made our way back to her apartment where we put on some Red Hot Chilli Peppers, opened a bottle of Prosecco before falling her double bed. (what, it would've been comfier than the sofa!)

This sounds incredibly dodgy I know, but it wasn't, it was fun and we even managed to stroll around the Cemetery the next day (I will explain later why you would even do such a thing).

I can rest in the fact that I have at least one of those crazy year abroad stories to tell everyone back home...or some grandchildren some day.

And thus concludes my Cocktail Capers for now.

 P.S Cocktails you should deffo try in Italy:

  • Spritz: orange drink, slightly sour but yummy all the same. Prosecco + sparkling water + Aperol/Campari
  • Caipiroska: Very sugary/sweet,the regular version is lime flavored but I prefer mine alla Fragola. Vodka + lime + strawberries +crushed Ice +sugar
  • Negroni: BEWARE Do not take on this drink lightly.Consider yourself warned .vermouth + gin + bitter campari