Happy Hour in Milan, not to be missed spots

I had a missed call. It’s probably the all you can eat buffet calling to say, “Come back! We know you can eat just a little bit more. – Jarod Kintz

Happy hour in Milan is a must that no one can miss. The Milano da Bere attitude (Drinking Milan-style, from the 1980s) has engraved this tradition into the DNA of the city and also exported it all over the world.

Milan has clearly defined areas for happy hour: Corso Como, Corso Sempione and the Navigli area. From 6pm onwards tens of thousands of people flock to the chosen venues, beating up the buffets set up on the counters with appetizers, pasta salads and hot dishes, cold cuts and cheeses, rice salads, cakes and pizza, sauces of all types, olives, pickles, and you name it. Of course, all this is washed down with a glass of wine, a cocktail or simply a legendary and timeless Spritz, prepared with Campari and white wine.

At present, even in the quietest ordinary bars in other parts of Milan, which until a few years ago offered guests just chips, peanuts and olives, now set up the usual buffet, thus avoiding the disappointment of their aficionados, accustomed to something else now. If you wish to enjoy a happy hour with all the trimmings, here is a shortlist of some peculiar venues in Milan, where aperitifs always end up to become … aperi-dinners.

Nottingham Forest, cocktails with pearl dust

Nottingham Forest Cocktail Bar, in Viale Piave, is an archetypal venue for happy hour. This fusion style club, furnished with Caribbean and African furniture, is famous for its exotic cocktails, or better, esoteric. Don’t miss out on an Elite Cocktail, prepared with pearl dust diluted in a costly Vodka.

Bhangrabar, Indian style happy hour

Bhangrabar, near the Arch of Peace in Corso Sempione, is quite a recent bar. Opened in 2003, it is furnished with original handicrafts from India: the front door is a ‘haveli’ of 1800, with beautiful ornaments and decorations. The bar counter comes from an old Burmese fabric store. It’s a place where you can have brunch, lunch, and happy hour until 2 am.

Cafénoir, a drink in the dark

For a definitely unusual aperitif, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 6:30pm onwards, head towards Via Vivaio, head towards Cafénoir. What makes this venue so special is the atmosphere: appetizers and drinks are consumed in total darkness. Cafénoir is a sensory experience organized by the Institute for the Blind, which has its headquarters here. A must try.

Caffè Roialto: the island of flavors

Tourists who want to be like the Milanese at least for one day, must spend an early evening at Caffè Roialto, in Via Procaccini. This lounge bar with furniture and designs inspired to the 1960s, is one of the most famous places for happy hour in Milan, and boasts a very pretty and rich buffet. What strikes you most at the Roialto, are its well kept furnishings, the leather sofas, the great crystal chandeliers. All this, in a very glamorous atmosphere, with furniture and fashion magazines scattered around, and bookshelves on the walls with photographic books.

Noon, total white aperitif

A refined bar, completely wrapped in white: welcome to Noon, in Via Boccaccio. A fashionable lounge bar where sitting at polished steel tables, on chairs and benches covered with white leather cushions, of course, in a place where details are given the utmost attention (such as chives used to tie appetizers,) you can enjoy your happy hour until 2 am.

Moresko Hammam Café, Zen fountains and happy hour

If you really want to go extreme, then you have to spend one night at Moresko, in Via Rubens. The full name of the place is Moresko Hammam Café, and features even two hammams, one for men and one for women. Amid architectures and furnishings of the Ottoman tradition, Zen fountains, arches and domes, outdoor area with lounge chairs and carpets, here you will enjoy an Oriental-style Happy Hour.

Caffè della Pusterla, where aperitif is intellectual

Caffè della Pusterla, in Via De Amicis, is another historic site of Milan, mainly popular with intellectuals. The Pusterla opens in the morning for breakfast offering a selection of newspapers and magazines, both national and international, and often closes the evening with cultural events and debates. It’s an emblematic meeting place for Milan’s intellectual elite and university students who rather prefer old-fashioned venues. Happy hour with salads and soups.

Corsia del Giardino, a paradise for gourmands

Corsia del Giardino is one of the most recent clubs in Milan, and its name recalls the former name of Via Manzoni, where it is located. Corsia del Giardino is renowned as a concept-bistro where you can enjoy gourmet treats. The garden is one of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, one of the most important house-museums in Europe. In particular, Corsia del Giardino is a sophisticated pastry shop: its international-style breakfast is one of the best in the city. All the dishes served at lunch, happy hour time and dinner are creations by chef Paolo Franchi.

Obika Mozzarella Bar, all about Mozzarella

Talking of odd clubs in Milan, we cannot fail to mention Obika Mozzarella Bar, in Via Mercato. The name says it all: the primary ingredient of all dishes is Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO. It’s unbelievable, but mozzarella cheese can be shaped, cooked and offered in countless ways. Even with an exotic, oriental twist: the finger food served during happy hour is a blend of Neapolitan and Japanese traditions. A highlight of this bar is the utilization of organic products.

134 Barcycle, aperitif for bikers

Those who love cycling, but also like books and magazines on the topic, should definitely try 134 Barcycle, in Via Francesco Arese. They will enjoy a happy hour surrounded by motorcycles, motorcycle parts, motorcycle accessories, plates and ornaments, as well as specialized books and magazines. An excellent selection of craft beers and regional foods awaits you, with cold cuts, cheeses, chicken wings and salads.

Corso Como, happy hour at every corner

A happy hour in Corso Como is undoubtedly one of the cornerstones for the 25- 35 age group, and perhaps even for elders. Corso Como, recently refurbished and renovated, a little more than 100 meters long in the most glamorous part of it, is a concentration of bars and clubs. These include Pixel, cocktail bar and restaurant lounge, Maf, where the music is less deafening than other places, Caffè Novecento, with a small garden on the back, and Pitbull Cafe, historic as the XIX century, with a cosmopolitan clientele.

Literary Cafes in Milan, for a cultural happy hour

Among the peculiar venues in Milan, we have to include also literary cafés, places where food goes hand in hand with cultural events, often wrapped in a classic radical chic atmosphere.

Libreria degli Atellani, in Via Moscova, is a bookshop of English novels, art books, newspapers and national and international magazines, and is close to Caffetteria degli Atellani, overlooking a garden and proposing a pleasant happy hour in the evening.

Bistrò del Tempo Ritrovato features 32 different types of beer. It’s a small library, an unstructured book society and a multifunctional space with a café where you can enjoy desserts, beer and snacks.

The legendary Jamaica in Via Brera, is one of the most famous clubs in Milan, an actual institution: rather than a literary cafe, it has always been a meeting place for professionals, artists, intellectuals, students of the Academy of Brera and craftsmen. So, much more than a mere trivial venue, where you can taste sandwiches, pasta, and cakes, chatting about Fuscas and Modigliani.

Last but not least, at Caffè Letterario in Via Rovello, culture is applied art. It is located inside the 15th-century cloister of Palazzo Carmagnola and gets very crowded for the happy hour and the Sunday brunch. Furnished in a sober and elegant style, from 6pm to 9pm Caffè Letterario offers an excellent buffet of both savory and sweet foods, with pasta dishes and veal with tuna sauce, spelt salad, cheese platters with honey, cakes and pastries. Then, starting from 9pm, it’s time for theater. The large tables of the bistro are full of books, newspapers and magazines.

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