In Milan, the pre-dinner drink is as much a ritual as it is an appetite whetter. Here are four places where you’ll enjoy sightings of the city’s fashion royalty (oh hey, Armani!) along with Campari and and an abundance of free snacks.
Il Bar in the Bulgari Hotel
We love a great hotel bar, and Bulgari’s is the cream of the crop. In addition to the excellent cocktails—even in a town of bang-up Negronis and Aperol spritzes—the bar is bright by day and moody in evenings, with a scene-y outdoor garden. Drinks aren’t cheap, but you can do some self-justifying arithmetic when you see the piattini, or plates of food, that complement your cocktail: after buffalo mozzarella, melon-topped prociutto, and tempura vegetables, you might not even need dinner. Other than the opportunity to dissect the outfits on Milan’s most stylish, including local blogger-turned-businesswoman Chiara Ferragni (aka The Blonde Salad), the best bit of this bar might be the pick-and-mix candy to grab on the way out.
You won’t be plied with cheese or prosciutto at this rooftop bar helmed by Dean and Dan Caten, the founders of DSquared. But you might not want either once you see the bikini-clad Italians in the bar-side pool. Book in advance to get a seat at sundown, order a glass of the region’s Lombardy wine, and take in the views of Milan from the fourth-floor perch.
Mio Bar at the Park Hyatt Milan
Allegra Versace and Lady Gaga have style bona fides in common—the former, a director of the family line, and the latter a love-it-or-hate-it fashion icon—along with an appreciation for the Park Hyatt Milan, a celebrity favorite for its massive spa, Michelin-starred restaurant, and excellent aperitivo hour at the minimal, teak-paneled Mio Bar. Although unusual for this city, the house specialty is the Bloody Mary—with no fewer than 12 variations on the menu. Aperitivo snacks are more high-minded than most: New nibbles are conceived each week by the restaurant’s accoladed chef, Andrea Aprea.
Wes Anderson designed this bar within the Fondazione Prada, which is almost enough said. It looks like a midcentury film set—with green Formica tables, a wood-backed bar, a jukebox, and Steve Zissou–themed pinball machines—but it’s meant as a locals’ hangout. Anderson said he imagined it as a bar in which he would like to write a movie. Even if you don’t spot him plodding away on his laptop (typewriter?), the original details—like a glass roof that replicates the vaulted glass roof of the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele—are worth viewing. And if you've ever seen a Wes Anderson movie, it won’t come as a surprise that olives, bite-size pizzas, and nuts are arranged with perfect symmetry alongside your Old Fashioned.