NO Cafe’, Modena, Italy

•July 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment


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This is a special review, and not only because the NO Cafe is a very special bar, where you can sip a classic Martini or any creative cocktail you can imagine in a fantastic medieval square in the centre of Modena, accompanied by lovely tapas mixing classic Emilia flavours with a touch of fusion. No, this is only a part of the story. The rest has to do with Walter, the owner of the bar, who decided to change his life in his mid thirties and simply created the best bar in town, from nothing. Lots of hard work, sleepless nights and many drinks in between, now the NO Cafe is a reference in Modena and beyond, probably being the best “gineria” (gin bar) in the Emilia Romagna region. And Walter is a great bartender and a deep gin conosseur, with planty of stories to tell on out favourite spirit. Depending on the day of the week, you can get a quite and romantic evening or a great party night. In both cases, cocktails, food, crew and music are practically the best you can find around. So: long life to Walter and to the NO Cafe! Classic Martini rate: 9.

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1862 Dry Bar, Madrid, Spain

•April 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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Chueca, the hip barrio in Madrid, is full of bars, still it is not that easy to get a really good cocktail or two (we leave to others the debate on how the recent cocktail hype in Spain has not really raised the average quality of drinks in the country). But, some really good bars do exist, and the 1862 Dry Bar is our favorite. A small, classic bar with just a few seats – you can get more in the basement – and a great atmosphere. The cocktail menu has all the classic stuff (and every cocktail is made with great attention to details), plus some original drinks from the bar, most of which are great discoveries. The crew at the bar is really nice and ready to advise on what to try, and you won’t leave the place without having sipped at least a couple of drinks, I can assure you. Classic Martini rate: 8.

Smile Tree, Torino, Italy

•December 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

smile-tree-2-1060Life is sometimes bizarre. You travel around for years searching for the perfect mixture between quality of drinks and creativity in making something new, then you end up in a town (Torino in my case) which is surely not known for its cocktail scene, and you find a bar that is probably the most creative cocktail spot on the planet. I am not exaggerating, and I am ready to be challenged: the Smile Tree is the most creative quality cocktail bar on the planet.

Located in a wonderful square in the city centre, a few steps from the famous Caffé Bicerin (a bar from the XIX century famous for its chocolate infused coffee, and a touristic attraction in town), the Smile Tree is rather simple in its interiors, as if the master behind the bar would not be interested in anything than drinks. Hundreds of bottles are hanging on elastic bands over the bar, which looks like the shop of a very busy druid.

You should sit down and just select one of the suggested cocktails, all original creations. Don’t worry: here the signature Martini tastes like a Martini. But, it might come in a set of three chilled mini glasses with some wonderful addings, or in an iron bottle to keep it frozen to perfection, or in another fashion, you never know. Every cocktail comes withers own mini-tapas, fitting the taste of the drink of course.

Suggestion: don’y miss the barrel-aged Negroni, which comes in a large (I mean very large) glass that delivers all the special perfumes and flavors of the “invecchiamento”.

What else to say? Probably the most creative bar on the planet. Classic Martini rate: 9.

 

Manhattan 34, Leicester, UK

•December 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes internet searches for “the best cocktail bar in town” are disappointing, but when they work the feeling is good. In Leicester, for example, if you follow this advice you’ll feel like a local, even if you are in town since a couple of hours. The manhattan34 bar is in fact one of these places where you feel at home instantly, as if that had been your bar forever. The bar, located in the cultural centre of town, is rather simple but elegant, crowded with a very mixed group of happy fellow drinkers, good jazz music and superb cocktails. Bartenders are kind – even f very busy – and creative enough to propose some innovative drinks without exagerating. And for an Italian like me finding draft Birra Moretti was quite a surprise! Classic Martini rate: 7.  DSC_0143

The Mad Dog, Torino, Italy

•May 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I16MO8CN952-U1040709423334qFG-U1040735407022U0E-378x275@LaStampa-TORINO-kkWB-U1040735407022U0E-640x360@LaStampa.itSometimes bars are in your destiny, as proven from the fact that the Mad Dog opened its doors on the very same day I moved to Torino, on first of November 2014. You might think: with so many bars opening in town lately, where is the big news? Well, the fact is that, in my humble globe-drinker opinion, the Mad Dog is “one on the best bars on the planet”, voilà. It is a speakeasy in the strict sense: no sign on the door, no address on the website, you need a password to get in (if you find the right door…), and one you are admitted you just step back in time. Hosted in the basement of an old building with a wonderful bricks ceiling, you can sit at one of the few tables (better book your table through the website) or at the long wooden bar. The first unique feature is the atmosphere: all the speakeasies I have visited have some sort of artificial feeling, but not the Mad Dog: don’t ask me how they made it, but here you will feel like sipping a cocktail side by side with Al Capone and his friends. Second, the cocktails list is amazing: either you can go for one of the 100 classics (you will be given the Savoy Book to check the ingredients if you like) or you can chose one of the 200 creations of Walter Grosso, the chief bartender. And here, believe me, you can go on forever, tasting one wonder after the other. Ah, vodka is not served in the bar, since vodka was not there at the time of prohibition. The only problem in such a bar is that, if you really like drinking well in a great place, you will stay until closing time… Classic Martini rate: 9.

Subastor, Sao Paulo, Brazil

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

subastorLet’s put it simply: this is the best cocktail bar among the dozens of bars in Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo (I am ready to be challenged on this). This is how to do it: enter the Astor Bar, a classy bar with nice food and cocktails (including a well-done Martini list) where you can meet high-society paulistanos having their drinks (most of them will have their own bottle behind the bar), get a drink and some food, and then climb down to the Subastor. Here you’ll enter in a tiny red underground room with a long bar, good music, a few tables and some great bartenders (including a smiling Italian guy), good music and a great cocktails menu (voted the best drinks list in Sao Paulo a couple of times in the last years). Classic cocktails share the list with very creative ones, all served fast and in an extremely professional manner, with hand-chopped ice and all the rest. I bet you won’t leave before having tried two or three cocktails, which will make you happy despite the price, which is a bit high for the Sao Paulo standards, but totally worth. Classic Martini rate: 9.

Hiding in Plain Sight, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

•October 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

hps-amsterdamIf you look for serious cocktails in Amsterdam, Hiding in Plain Sight is where you want to be. Not too far but far enough from the noisy touristic part of the city, this bar is an hidden gem in the city who gave birth to Genever, the ancestor of gin (well gin was not really created in Amsterdam, as the history of our favorite spirit tells, but who cares). The place is quite (at least at the cocktail hour) and beautifully decorated with a touch of 20s style, and when you enter you are welcomed with kindness and served fresh water (this is a nice habit). You can feel from the very first moment that behind the bar there is a vision, and that people here love what they do. The cocktail list is simply perfect, classics made with creativity and new drinking ideas. I went for a classic martini, which is made with Noilly Prat, and with one of the many gins available (ask the bartender to present the latest bottles to you). The cocktail is made close to perfection (we know that perfection in Martinis does not exist), and served in two parts: your drink in a martini glass and a small glass jug leaning on some ice cubes with another part of your drink, so that you get a big martini that never gets warm. I have to say that when I ask a martini I expect to get a martini in a martini glass and nothing else, but the idea is good and the quality of the drink remains unchanged. I tried other variants and some other cocktails, all  simply perfect. As I said, you want to visit this bar. Classic Martini Rate: 9.