BAR BASSO MILAN
An historical cocktail bar that through the years has become a real Milanese institution, Bar Basso is mostly renown for its signature cocktail Negroni Sbagliato, invented here and presented in huge scenographic glasses with 6cm x 8cm hand cut ice cubes inside.
A true cult bar for sophisticated drinking devotees, Bar Basso was the first-ever bar in Milan to introduce the “aperitif” to everyday people. While before cocktails could only be found at the exclusive lounge bars of luxurious international grand hotels, since 1947 cocktails have been mixed and drunk at this local neighbourhood bar.
Bar Basso, managed by the Stocchetto family since 1967, is a celebrated and well-known place, but still full of surprises and very unique: a cocktail bar for true connoisseurs who can recognize and appreciate when a drink is prepared and presented properly. It is one of the few, rare places where the tradition and charm of the great international bars is still alive and kicking today.
The quality of the drinks at Bar Basso reflects not only in the preparation phase, with meticulous dosages following well-codified formulas, but also and mostly in the presentation of the cocktails. Often very colourful, flourishing with flowers and fresh fruit, bolstered by what has become a real cult and signature item for the most devoted customers: the extra-size, 31 cm tall hand-blown stem glasses, resembling those coming from the most prestigious Venice glaziers.
Today the cocktails list menu of Bar Basso includes more than 500 drinks, from the great classics to the newly invented ones, such as Rossini - especially created by Mirko Stocchetto to come closer to the ladies’ taste - the Victoria – dedicated by Mirko’s son, Maurizio, to the bar’s devotee Victoria Beckham – the celebrated hazelnut ice-cream cocktail Mangia e Bevi, which has been famous since the late 60s, and most of all, the real trademark drink of Bar Basso, the Negroni Sbagliato (often referred to as a "Bungled Negroni" or "Wrong Negroni").
So different for background, personality, education and vocation, Mirko Stocchetto and his son, Maurizio, have proved to be alike. Especially when it comes to creativity, impeccable taste, reinvention ability and business genius. It’s thanks to these qualities and skills that their creature – the Bar Basso – has been able to leave a permanent mark in the past and present history of the city of Milan.
"When we set up Best Bars Europe we did so with the sole intention of bringing together not just the best cocktail bars in Europe but also the historic places where famous drinks were invented, as well as those bars which are unique to the city in which you are in - the kind you will not find anywhere else in the world. Bar Basso ticks all three of these boxes.
Mirko Stocchetto learned his trade at the famous Harry's Bar in Venice during the war years before taking over Bar Basso in 1967. At a time when bars only served Italian wine, beer, bitters and vermouth, he successfully converted it to an "American cocktail bar" , a concept then unheard of in Italy. Largely as a result of not being able to find suitable glassware in Milan for his creations, he commissioned specially designed glasses from the glass-blowers back in Venice. To this day, he is widely acknowledged as being the man who revolutionised the way people drink in Milan.
If you're a cocktail enthusiast, you can really immerse yourself in the history of this local neighbourhood bar without much imagination. The two 19th Century rooms still hold their 1960s decor and this adds to the charm of the place. Old men, playing cards, mix with young fashion conscious couples, whilst designers and artists rub shoulders with tourists who have come here for the famous cocktails. Whilst it may not be the hip "place to be" it once was, you can still feel the glamour of 1960s Milan and picture in your mind the stunning models from the era, sat at the bar, drinking from the beautiful glasses.
Just as no visit to Milan would be complete without visiting Bar Basso, no visit to Bar Basso would be complete without trying a large Negroni Sbagliato. Made with Campari, sweet vermouth and Prosecco (instead of gin), it is served in a huge fishbowl sized glass with an iceberg of hand cut ice. It's more than a novelty drink in a theme bar. The quality is fantastic, as it was for all the cocktails we tried - and there's plenty of other signature ones to choose from, including the world famous Rossini (Champagne and strawberry juice), and the hazelnut ice-cream cocktail Mangia e Bevi.
As with many Milan bars, the locals prefer to stand at the bar to avoid paying more when seated (we think this is also the case at Bar Basso judging by the repeated attempts of the waiter to seat us). The service wasn't the friendliest we encountered in Milan, it has to be said, although we put that down to the fact that most of the waiters could not speak English. They seemed to be more welcoming towards the older regulars, who seemed a friendly bunch, chatting to us about Manchester United and what we thought of their city.
Legend has it that, whilst making a classic Negroni, Mirko Stocchetto accidentally selected a bottle of Prosecco instead of a bottle of gin and, thus, the Negroni Sbagliato was born. It was a famous mistake that, ever since, has meant cocktail enthusiasts do not make the wrong move by visiting Bar Basso."
~ Best Bars Europe 4th February 2014