MILAN: Navigli nights continued

Previously on my Milan Cocktail Notes: We arrived at the quirky Mag Café located on the grand canal of Milan’s Navigli neighborhood. Scanning the bottles displayed around the bar, I had spotted a bottle of FARMILY botanical spirit.

[November 2017] – I had read about FARMILY during my pre-trip research for my return to Milan. The mysterious liqueur was put on top of my list of things to try. I would seek it out and get a taste of it. And coincidentally, the first place I visited offered this special botanical – and happened to be the actual makers of it.

I reverted back to my subway map style menu to seek out a cocktail made with FARMILY. And what do you know? The very first item on the menu – under the Garibaldi stop category – contained this mysterious botanical spirit. The cocktail was named Cinzano Cocktail ; containing ingredients including Cinzano 1757, arabica Gum, and bitters – all flavors I like.

The waitress returned with an empty stemmed glass – similar to a nick & nora. Next to the glass, she placed an individual-sized ice bucket; sitting on the ice was a small brown bottle labeled with the words “Secret Take Away” [pictured]. I pulled the bottle from the ice, unscrewed the gold colored top and poured the burgundy colored elixir into my glass, leaving about 2-3 more servings in the bottle.

The best way I can describe this drink is to compare to a gin based drink, Negroni-ish, and almost tiki-like, bitter and smooth. I absolutely loved it. I looked at the bottle still in my hand, and noticed another label on the back; which listed the cocktail’s ingredients.

One of the barmen Francesco came to greet us. And it was then I was informed that FARMILY was the product of the Mag Café group! He spoke to us about this spirit’s production, and he gave us a taste of the differences between the 2016 and 2017 versions. Each blended with different herbs and botanicals, but the bigger distinction was the alcohol in which they were distilled. The 2016 was distilled with grain alcohol – giving it a gin-like quality. While the 2017 was distilled with a sugarcane alcohol – giving it a rum-like taste.

Francesco continued to talk with us about the concept of Mag Café, FARMILY and the group’s affiliated bars. We were also invited to take a peek next door at their tiny establishment Backdoor 43.

Known as one of the world’s tiniest bars, Backdoor 43 fits a maximum of four people with limited seating for reservations. Francesco explained that the bartender is always a mystery – donning a Guy Faux mask – and mixes cocktails based on the preference of the patron lucky enough to land a reservation. Francesco also showed us a small slot that slides out to the street. If a customer failed at getting a reservation, he/she can order a drink to go – served in one of the several distinctly designed paper cups [pictured].

We eventually and sadly had to leave Mag – although we could have stayed there all night – but it was time to explore our next destination of this first night cocktail tour. And coincidentally, the next stop on our list happened to be another location owned by this fantastic group. [To be featured in the next blog post.]

  • Mag CaféRipa di Porta Ticinese, 43, 20143 Milano
  • Backdoor 43 Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 43, 20143 Milano

[Next: Cocktails and crudo]

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