Campari and the aperitivo in Milan

The Aperitivo, one of the most famous and appreciated habits in Italy and in Milan, let’s learn more about it!

Campari-based cocktails

Campari-based cocktails

But let’s start from the beginning. As an aperitivo, in Italy we consider both, the habit to meet in a bar before dinner (or lunch) and have a drink and the drink itself. This drink has not necessary to be a specific one but you can choose between many options: a glass of red wine, Prosecco, even a coke can be ordered as an aperitivo, but honestly, when you’re in Milan and you talk about the aperitivo…the first thing you think of is Campari.

Campari was the company founder’s last name and he his the same who invented the famous red drink. Mister Gaspare Campari, born in 1828 in northern Italy, after practicing and becoming master drink maker in Turin, decided to open his own bar in his hometown. There, he started to create new drinks by mixing herbs and infusions. He literally created dozen of those drinks , but in 1860 he created the one who made his fortune, the “Bitter all’uso d’Hollanda”, then turned into Mr Campari’s Bitter and after a while just Campari.

His recipe, which Campari keeps confidential, contained more than 60 natural ingredients including herbs, spices, barks and fruit peels.

Camparino - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Camparino – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Thanks to this big success he decided to move to Milan and open a bar in the area of the Cathedral. Few years later, in the same area was inaugurated the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, to celebrate the unification of Italy, and Mr Campari opened a bar there.

The name of the  bar is Camparino and you can still find it there at the entrance of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, with its furniture, mosaics and floral decoration dating  back to the 20s. If you’re around visiting the city, do a favour to yourself, go inside the Camparino and order your Campari on the rocks, sip it standing at the counter while picking at olives and crisps and just enjoy life.

Campari family chapel

Campari family chapel

A bizarre curiosity about the Campari family is that their chapel in Milan’s monumental cemetery is a bronze representation of the Last Supper…can you imagine it? The father of the aperitivo is buried under the Last Supper!

The more familiar you’ll get with Milan, the better you’ll understand that in the city the aperitivo is more than just a social habit but a religion! This city is vibrant and competitive, people just need to have a moment to chill out, socialize sipping a drink with friends and colleagues and the aperitivo is the best solution, that’s why you’ll see dozens of bars serving it. A number of those aperitivi is Campari-based, let’s see the most popular ones and discover where to taste them!

Bicicletta (Bicycle)

Take Away Bistrot

Take Away Bistrot

This Campari-based cocktail is 100% Milanese. Of course the proportions depend on personal taste, but to prepare a balanced drink we suggest to fill your glass with ice and put:

–              1/3 Campari

–              2/3 White wine

–              A splash of Soda water

Then stir and add a slice of orange

Come and taste this refreshing cocktail at the Take Away Bistrot, a cozy, old bar and one of the stops of our yummy Milan Food Tour.


Another legendary Italian cocktail, original from Florence but now an icon around the world. To prepare at home this drink with a strong personality just put some ice cubes in a glass and add:

–              1/3 Campari

–              1/3 Gin

–              1/3 Red Vermouth

Stir and add a slice of orange.

You can find the best Negroni in town at the Bar Basso an original old Milanese bar.

Well, we can say that you’ve got a lot to do in your spring evenings in Milan and a suggestion of what to prepare to your guest once that you head back home!

As we say in Italy…CIN CIN! 🙂