Romans are learning to unwind with craft cocktails at a new crop of bars.
In Rome, where food and alcohol are inseparable partners, the idea of a cocktail hour without snacks or a meal has never really taken off. Yet a small but growing crop of city bars has begun mixing craft cocktails that put the spotlight on spirits and go way beyond the standard Spritz or watered-down Mojito.
The granddaddy of Roman cocktail bars is The Jerry Thomas Project, a members-only lounge (subscribe and pay an annual fee on entry) serving American classics fashioned from the best selection of booze and homemade bitters in town, including a perfectly balanced Sazerac with a splash of absinthe.
At Barnum Café, Federico Tomasselli and Patrick Pistolesi mix drinks customised to their patrons' tastes; their American-inspired menu includes a few Italian touchstones as well, such as a Negroni made with hand-crafted bitters. Tomasselli and Pistolesi's side project, The Gin Corner, is Italy's first gin-centric bar; it keeps more than 80 labels for Martinis and Gin Tonics.
For cocktails with a view, 0-300º pours flamboyantly garnished drinks on the sixth-floor roof terrace of the First Luxury Art Hotel. A stroll away, the Stravinskij Bar in the luxurious Hotel de Russie serves classic cocktails in its ground-floor garden. The hotel's former bar manager, Massimo D'Addezio, launched his solo project, Co So, in Pigneto late last year and draws from an arsenal of housemade fat-washed spirits and aromatised wines. Also in Pigneto, Dal Verme gives a local twist to a New Orleans classic; its signature Sagerac uses sage, a herb common to Roman cooking.