The cocktails to try in Rome
“What would you like to drink tonight?” How many times have you been asked this question by a skilled bartender? The reason why any professional bar keeper asks is to fully understand which drink will suit you best in that particular moment. Through extensive knowledge, they will be able to mix up spirits and ingredients in order to get that “wow that’s what I was looking for’’ response.
Thoughts like: “which bar should I go to tonight?’’ or “is it worth it for this occasion?’’ make choosing the right bar a bit tricky.
If that’s the case, stay with me, I will be your local bartender, guiding you through different styles (not all bars are the same), special house cocktails, spirits and bartender advises. In addition, I will free you from the stress of a bad choice: by suggesting to avoid places that are not what you are looking for (like some great cocktails that are not your style).
Luckily enough, today Rome has plenty of choice for any taste. Salute!
THE JERRY THOMAS PROJECT
Vicolo Cellini, 30 (Centro Storico)
The Doors of this little bar opened back in 2010, and since then it has amused the city with fantastic cocktails and great service, How do you say? Small but mighty, yes? indeed it reflects the personality of this solid Speakeasy.
This place is everything but common. In fact, to enter you have to go through the original idea of the Prohibition era where bars were kept secret and give “The Password’’. Firstly you have to book a table as the capacity is very limited and the demand is high, then you will be communicated with the correct access word which you have to say at the door . Trust me it’s worth it. As you walk inside you’ll feel in an old movie like Great Gatsby or the Untouchables, it is all about swing, Jazz, everyone is obviously drinking cocktails – and like it or not – it’s cigarette friendly thanks to a good air system .
The staff is highly trained and the selection of Gin is enormous, you just need to take a look at the back bar to understand what I’m talking about. It’s a perfect spot for a late night cup! Make sure to check out the website to fully understand the house policy, including the mandatory membership card. That’s what they were doing back in the days and those guys want to keep the traditions alive. As I have mentioned it is a secret bar so there is no signs except for an intercom, don’t be afraid, ring it.
Must-try: Del Professore ‘’Monsieur’’:
An excellent Gin made by the guys of Jerry Thomas, Federico Ricatto and Quaglia’s distillery, an authentic Bathtub Gin with a modern touch, a blend of 10 botanicals, Italian Juniper and a secret ingredient. Perfect for a Negroni.
Bartender Choice: Improved Aviation:
London Dry Gin, Lavender syrup, Violet Liquor, Lemon Juice, Rose Bitter
Avoid if: Large Groups (may be uncomfortable due to small capacity), Cigarette smoke bothers you, Vodka lover (they don’t serve it)
THE GIN CORNER
Via di Pallacorda, 2 (Centro Storico)
The Name says it all. This bar is the Roman Mecca for Gin aficionados, with over 60 brands and a tailor-made menu based on Gin cocktails. This great corner is located in the golden circle of the most famous tourist sites, between Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, which makes this stylish cocktail bar a perfect Pit stop for a Gin tonic, perhaps.
Cocktails Like Negroni and Martini are the perfect choice, you can even decide to have a “Gin Tasting Menu’’ with an impressive selection divided into American, French and Scottish gins that you can choose to sip on the rocks or neat.
What really impressed me about this bar is the range that goes from €9 to €15, a flexible selection of Gins that goes from entry level to a more complex expression.
Located in the Hotel Adriano, it is the classic example of how a hotel bar can be trendy and casual and still be awarded as one of the best Italian bars. Everything from the design to the service is very welcoming for the novice in the Hotel bar world. But the best is yet to come: every gin on the menu has a meticulous description that gives you the opportunity to learn about your favourite brand or discover a new one with any possible pairing from Citrus Twist to Rosemary towards herbs, spices and several crafted Tonic water. Is it Gin o’clock yet?
Gin to try: The Kyoto Dry Gin, KI NO BI,
KI NO BI (‘The Beauty of the Seasons’) is inspired by tradition and is distilled, blended and bottled in Kyoto. It is created with Japanese botanicals such as yellow yuzu, hinoki wood chips (Japanese cypress), bamboo, gyokuro tea and green sanshò (Japanese peppercorn) berries.
Bartender Choice: Conte Camomillo
VII Hills London Dry Gin, Rhubarb and Chamomile, Vermouth dry, Campari
Avoid if: Late night
Via Claudia, 15 (Monti)
Open from Lunch to late night (2am), Caffe Propaganda is an eclectic Bistro that offer a superb conjunction of Food and Drinks, surrounded by elements of the early 1900s and inspired by Italian avant-guard that takes you back to a New York style Brasserie. Indeed, the concept rotates between the experience of food and cocktail pairing, with a regular monthly offer, lead by the creativity and the team work of the Head Chef Fabio Pecelli, the Bar Manager Patrick Pistolesi and The Head Bartender Livio Morena.
The venue is structured into two main areas: as you steps inside, you will be welcomed by a long and smooth vintage bar, equipped with any sort of spirits and ingredients. Going further you will end up in the restaurant area where you can slightly see the Chefs in action. To say that this bar is only about whisky is limitative, indeed the menu – named ‘’Hotel Avanguardia’’- is an expression of cocktails with ingredients from all around the world. The knowledgeable Patrick will guide you through the perfect choice in a truly hospitable way, If you miss the chance to catch him behind the bar you will be safe in the hands of Livio, an equally remarkable host.
Not to mention that Caffe Propaganda is only a few steps away from the astonishing Colosseum and the ancient Forum. I really recommend this place as a Date night. Start with a cocktail at the bar stools and finish with a sublime dessert on the leather couches at the restaurant (maybe another cocktail to pair with it)!
Whisky to try: Nikka From The Barrel
A blend of Miyagikyo and Yoichi, single malts, a Blended whisky with a distinctive personality characterized by solidity, depth of taste and a richly expanding aroma.
Bartender Choice: Irish Whisky Sour
Jameson Black Barrel, Lemon Sugar, egg white, Bitter
Avoid if: Prefer a fast-paced environment
THE RACE CLUB ROMA
Via Labicana, 52 (Colosseo)
Following up the global trend, The Race Club is speakeasy style bar. But, these guys have twisted the concept with a special ingredient. As the name suggests, this bar is also inspired by the interior elements of a garage repair, with a cool touch that reminds the world of custom-made Bikes. This place is a cozy loft filled with vintage decor, mirrors, clocks, and keys.
Cocktails here are a serious thing with recipes taken from the Prohibition era and creative signature menu. The team here is not messing around. The mood of this secret bar couldn’t hold me back from drinking a whisky cocktail, sitting nicely in one of the cool retro chairs, but the selection is wide and the staff is well prepared to satisfy any request.
The Race Club is surely a trendy spot for your Rome Bar tour, it is also located very conveniently and it’s a great place to hide from the hustle and bustle of the Colosseum area until late at night (4.30am).
Check out this place during the weekend aperitivo from 7pm (weekend only) as they offer a selection of high quality charcuterie plates in collaboration with local producers.
Last but not least, as part of the tradition this speakeasy has a few house policies to follow, so don’t forget to check out the website. Booking is highly recommended.
Whisky to try: Sonoma straight Rye
Sonoma Straight rye is produced in the town of Rohnert Park in California. It is made exclusively with a rye mash and distilled twice in traditional copper pot stills over a direct fire. Aged in new, charred American oak barrels for no less than one year. Notes of vanilla, allspice, walnut, dried apricot and white pepper abound.
Bartender Choice Sazerac
Rye whisky, Peychauds, Bitter Sugar, Rinse of Absinthe
Avoid if: Don’t fancy to pay on cash only
LA PUNTA EXPENDIO DE AGAVE
Via Santa Cecilia, 8 (Trastevere)
Mexico is the land of colors, music, food, traditions and of course Mezcal. Too often many people connect this beautiful country with the cliche of Tex-Mex food and bad tequilas, well forget about it, La Punta is an exploit of the real Mexico with a funky interior and a cool street art decor. The food is authentic but modern, the selection of Mezcal and Tequilas is incredible and the cocktails are top notch. This place is the result of the incredible passion and many travels of the two owners: Roberto Artusio and Cristian Bugiada, the two have joined the forces and decided to spread the Agave Love in Rome, and if you love this spirit as much, this is your heaven.
The venue is structured in two levels: upstairs a large bar with a restaurant, downstairs a small and cosy cocktail bar (aka Maria Sabina) where from Thursday to Saturday there’s a DJ set spinning Exotic sounds, Latin vibes and electric Cumbia. La Punta is in the Heart of Trastevere, one of the most vibrant areas of Rome. It is slightly hidden but surrounded by beautiful lane ways and Renaissance buildings that makes finding it a moment to remember.
Must-try: La Punta
Side by side with Mexican producers ‘’La Punta’’ has a wide range of own Mezcales Made with different species of Agave, techniques and Terroir. Absolutely recommended.
Bartender Choice: JLS Daisy
Tequila, Pineapple, Lime, Curacao, Coriander, Serrano, Pepper
Avoid if: Wine Drinker
GITANO MEZCAL Y COCINA
Via della Gensola, 58/a (Trastevere)
From the sunny beach of Ibiza the team behind Gitano have landed in Trastevere to bring the Mezcal wave and the typical hippy chic mood of the White Island. Indeed, this place is a lot about Ibiza, Rattan furniture, and tropical plants make you feel that Balearic summer. Delicious Mezcal cocktails, sushi, raw food and DJ set are the essentials. Gitano is the very new entry of the Roman Bar scene opened only a few weeks ago. It looks like a promising summer place. Located across the Tiber island (Via della Gensola 58A). Gitano is quite small inside but the public square where is located is largely available for the Gitano crowd.
Must-try: Mezcal Enmascarado:
Grounded in the deep tradition of Oaxaca, this Mezcal is produced with Organic espadin agave. The taste is rich with a touch of smoke and citrus.
Bartender Choice: Mezcal Margarita
Espadin Mezcal Lime Agave Nectar
Avoid if: Looking to have a full course meal