Bar Basso is one of the most iconic spots in the city, especially during the Milano Design Week.
Bar Basso is a local in Milan, located in Plinio 39, known for its long history within the Milanese community.
Bar Basso lights up all the more with a celebratory atmosphere that becomes explosive and irresistible when Milan hosts its most important cultural events, such as the Salone del mobile and the Fiera dell’Arte.
Bar Basso is a true cult bar for sophisticated drinking devotees.
The history of this bar on Via Plinio, goes back to 1933 and its roots lie in the old school bartender tradition of Venice and Cortina.
Before 1947 cocktails could only be found at the exclusive lounge bars of luxurious international grand hotels, however since 1947 cocktails have been served shaken and stirred at this local neighbourhood bar.
In the Sixties cocktails were simply not part of Italian drinking culture, only available in the lounges and bars of international hotels.
Bar Basso was a pioneer, offering people the delights and pleasures of Martinis, Manhattans and White Ladies in a genuine street corner bar.
In 1967, Bar Basso became the first-ever Milanese bar to introduce the “aperitif” to everyday people, while before cocktails could only be found at the exclusive lounge bars of luxurious international grand hotels.
A truly cult bar for sophisticated drinking devotees
Bar Basso is one of very few cocktail bars where the tradition and charm of the great international bars is still alive and kicking today.
More than just a bar, an institution for designers around the world here during the Design Week regularly visit each night.
About Mirko Stochetto ( 1929 – 2015 )
Mirko Stocchetto was born in Venice in 1929
Bar Basso was opened in 1933 by Giuseppe Basso who started Bar Basso in Porta Vigentina.
Bar Basso was closed in 1945 but resurfaced in 1947 at the venue that we all know today, via Plinio 39, thanks to two young bartenders from the renowned Hotel Posta di Cortina, Mirko Stocchetto and Renato Hausmann.
Next to the new Bar Basso was the white bicycle factory, so the workers and those who worked there served at the bar on a daily basis.
Mirko cut his teeth in the hotels of Venice and Cortina, and learned the art of cocktail making from the barmen of the Cipriani Hotel and the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice
He brought his experience to Milan, where he opened his first restaurant at Porta Vigentina in the mid-1960s.
Due to the Retirement of Giuseppe Basso, Mirko acquired Bar Basso in 1967.
In 1968 Mirko accidentally poured Prosecco instead of Gin into a Red Martini and Bitter Campari, and so the Negroni Sbagliato ( = wrong ) was born which in just a few years became a myth.
During a very busy moment a waiter put the bottle of sparkling Ferrari instead of that of the gin, Mirko was in a hurry and took it.
“It’s a hot day, I’ve made your Negroni lighter” Mirko told the customer.
“What’s its’ name?”
“It’s called Negroni Sbagliato ”
Mirko had a cousin who worked in a glass shop in Milan and then he asked him to make these big glasses which are still in use today.
It was a different way to attract Milanese customers who were not used to drinking cocktails and aperitifs here.
Initially the ice was carried in blocks by one meter and cut it with the brick wheel. Only later did he make giant ice cubes
He also devised new concoctions, such as the Rossini aperitif
Bar Basso in the 1960’s
Giuseppe Basso, nel filmato, aprì il bar Basso nel 1933 in Porta Vigentina a Milano. Alla fine della guerra, esattamente nel 1946, si spostò nell’attuale sede di via Plinio. Basso lo gestì fino al ’67. Lo rilevò (insieme al socio Renato Hausammann) un barman veneziano che aveva reso celebre l’Hotel Posta di Cortina: Mirko Stocchetto, tessera Aibes numero 52 e autore del celebre Negroni Sbagliato.
Posted by Redazione Bargiornale on Friday, 15 April 2016
2010 Interview in Italian with Mirko Stocchetto and Maurizio Stochetto ( and making the Negroni Sbagliato )
Decades later, the bar still operates in much the same way as when Stocchetto senior was in charge – but now under the direction of Mirko’s son Maurizio
Maurizio Stocchetto was born in Venice in 1960
He moved to Milan in 1967 with his family when his father Mirko acquired Bar Basso in Milan, bringing among the first experiences in preparing cocktails in the big hotel bars in a Public space on the road, within reach of everyone.
Since 1984 he has been continuing the tradition of cocktail mixology at Bar Basso
” I started working in the bar in 1967. I had to go to the military but, thanks to the baby boom phenomenon, I could postpone the departure and decide to leave for California.I had planned a stay of a few months, which became two years. Having the legal age to drink, I started to discover the bar as a guest and I immediately realized how fun it was.
I came back to Milan with a completely different approach, but in the meantime the city had become the cradle of the industrial design newborn and thanks to the proximity to the Polytechnic, soon a new generation of architects and designers started attending the bar. It was very lively years, restaurants remained open until late and ongoing Buenos Aires stayed in the car in traffic even at night.” ……… Maurizio
Already attended by musicians such as Pino Presti and Roberto Cacciapaglia since 1994, the Bar Basso is also a recognised meeting place for artists and designers
Bar Basso’s popularity with the global design crowd dates back to a period in the 1980s when the bar’s owner Maurizio became friends with a group of up and coming UK designers led in spirit by James Irvine
The group who lived and worked in Milan included James’ friends – Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Jasper Morrison, Matthew Hilton, Ross Lovegrove, Kostantin Grcic, Thomas Eriksson, Emmanuel Babled and many more, who were all spending a lot of time in Milan developing their design projects for leading Italian manufacturers
” James came out here one evening, very late, while I was pulling down the curtains. They were five in his group : James, Stefano Giovannoni, Thomas Sandell, Marc Newson and Jasper Morrison. At that time there was no interest in industrial design. We kept talking until very late and they came back again.” …… Maurizio
One night James Irvine asked Maurizio to organize a secret party, for up to one hundred and fifty guests.
It was already the era of cell phones, shortly the news of the party spread and dozens and dozens of taxis began to arrive as long as we could count about a thousand people. There was even Simon Le Bon.
” It became the meeting place for all of James’ friends. One Salone we decided to have a cocktail party there and issued drink tickets to various friends. It was a big success and we repeated it the following year, but word got round and there were hundreds of people there. That was how the Bar Basso Salone scene started ” ……… Jasper Morrison
” I was always very happy to go there, and Maurizio is a real gentleman: you didn’t feel like you went to a bar, you felt like you went to Maurizio’s. Bar Basso for me is a symbol of the Salone. ” …….. Ron Arad
” In general, I really appreciate the historic approach of young barman to the world of cocktails with inspiration from Jerry Thomas to Prohibition, to Sex and the City or Mad Men.
However, they are puzzled about the use of measuring instruments that seem to have become indispensable. It must be a generational question: in the “old school” you learn how to measure by using your wrist and following the rituals of always doing the same gestures, always using the same glasses or instruments for years you acquire the ability to measure the ingredients.
Using the “jigger” I would feel like an acrobat on the trapeze hooked to a rope, or a biker who comes to the starting grid with the wheels.” …… Maurizio Stocchetto
” I started working at Bar Basso Bottom Bar at the age of 16, but only in summer and some Saturday night to pay for gas and to be independent, certainly not for a spontaneous interest in the bar world. It was another epoch, the boys then had almost no money in their pockets. My tip was 20,000 lire a week !
It was during college time that I started to engage in cocktails, thanks to a trip to California: Americans drank drinks and wine, and I fell in love with cocktails in the 50’s.” ……. Maurizio
” According to Marcel Wanders, what distinguishes us is the enthusiasm we put into our work.
Cocktails are frivolous, yes, but there is art in how to prepare them. We have never followed the modes, we keep our line unchanged over time because, at a time when everything is flattened, it is very important to preserve your identity. The common denominator remains Milan, a city of communication. Moreover, the weather patina makes the whole ambiance distinguish itself by heat and quality. Who comes to Basso will soon feel the urge to return ” ……. Maurizio
Spot the future star designers in this 2001 video taken at Bar Basso
But despite its special relationship with the creative community, Maurizio Stocchetto maintains the bar is open to everyone –
“From plumbers to students, from policemen to thieves. I do not want to pass the idea that we want to be a celebrity bar. We like the opposite. The customer has to be pampered, feeling like everyone else. It’s nice to mix people but to know that the Lower Bar is always the home of everyone ”
‘I like that my bar is for everyone, that it’s unpretentious, but the design scene has been very important to me. What happens at Bar Basso is like a little miracle.’ …….. Maurizio
The very beautiful Sergio Carnevale Emmanuelle by Gillo Pontecorvo, with Erika Blanc, Paola Ferrari and Adolfo Celi. The music was from Mina.
There is a scene where she finds that her partner died in an accident. Here is a beautiful look at the 60s and the life of those years. It is a pity that in the movie, given the news, she does not even have time to have a drink.
Bar Basso is anything but a design bar. The space has remained relatively unchanged since the 1950s, with its marble floors, pink walls, brocades and mirrors.
Bar Basso is one of very few cocktail bars where the tradition and charm of the great international bars is still alive and kicking today.
A place for connoisseurs who still like to enjoy a flawless drink in style. A truly cult bar for sophisticated drinking devotees, Bar Basso was the first-ever bar in Milan to introduce the “aperitif” to everyday folk.
Ciao ciao Salone!#Zero #Divertirsiègiusto
Posted by Massimiliano Grai on Sunday, 9 April 2017
Giorgio Canali ( below ) has been a barman at Bar Basso for 40 years
Bar Basso Cocktails
Today Bar Basso’s cocktail list includes more than 500 drinks – from the great classics such as the Bloody Mary, Manhattan and Martini to the newly invented ones, such as the Rossini – especially created by Mirko Stocchetto to appeal to the ladies, the celebrated hazelnut ice-cream cocktail Mangia e Bevi, which has been famous since the late 60s, and not forgetting, the real trademark drink of Bar Basso, the Negroni Sbagliato.
How to make a Negroni Sbagliato
4 Ice cubes
1 part of Sparkling Brut
1 part of Red Martini
1 part of Bitter Campari
A slice of Orange to decorate
Fill the Tumbler Glass with the ice cubes
Pour the Red Martini and the Bitter Campari
Fill the glass with the sparkling brut and mix with the stirrer
Decorate with an orange slice located on the edge of the glass
Mangia e Bevi ( Eat and Drink )
The Bar Basso menu also offers “Eat and Drink”, invented by Mirko Stocchetto in 1968 and is made with hazelnut ice cream, cream, zabaione and chocolate liquor, cherry brandy and garnished with strawberries amd seasonal fruit
Bar Basso Typography
Through her studio, Vedèt, Valentina Ciuffi worked with Australian graphic designer Georgia Cranstoun to create an interactive page that explores key typographic characters and the stories behind them.
These include the large 1950s neon sign towering outside the bar, which Stocchetto inherited from the previous owner, and light boxes that were added to the windows sometime in the early 1970s with statements such as ‘eat and drink’, as well as the bar’s name.
‘These bizarre graphics have overlapped since the 1950s without any specific criteria; they are eclectic, messy, unexpected and rather delightful,’ explains Ciuffi.
Inside, the cacophony of fonts continues, with the cursive of the neon sign repeated on the menu and on paraphernalia such as pens and matches.
The napkins also contribute to this typographic riot, and are still printed with the same design used since the 1970s.
Bar Basso Signage
The letters on the neon marquee on the corner, so soft and comforting to the patrons of the BB, in fact hide a picaresque adventure.
They witnessed the acrobatics and juggling of Antonio Franconi, who fled Paris in 1756 after having killed a nobleman of the Venetian Republic in a duel.
These were the letters of his Cirque Olympique, where thousands of spectators had discovered the equestrian magic of the circus.
The letters that spell out Mangia e Bevi = eat and drink, for example, were previously the sign of a manufacturer of barrels, vats, and casks.
Il Narciso was the name of the craftsman, who sometimes even created some artistic furniture for friends and acquaintances.
His atelier, in one of the valleys of Cuneo, was filled with the scent of oak, cherry, acacia, ash, and chestnut, left to mature. The wood for the barrels must be perfect, no knots, peeling, or fissures.
All the more so if they must be sent to the cellars of the House of Savoy
The letters, with that air of BB’s “Carosello”, written in red on paper napkins, were in fact impertinent on a modest sign of an extravagant vintage dealer of Sperlonga.
Even the claim, “THE MODERN COCKTAIL”, all in caps and with that attitude of logs and the woodshed had existed in the most fascinating haunt of the black musicians of free jazz.
Free Drink Tokens Project
Bar Basso’s initiated project to create a series of free-drink tokens created in collaboration with 24 illustrious names of international design – Martino Gamper, Clemens Weisshaar, Konstantin Grcic, Francois Dumas, Harry Thaler, Lanzavecchia-Wai, Massimo Faion, Michael Geldmacher, Mischer’ Traxler, Nucleo, Riccardo Blumer, Zanellato Bortotto, Zaven and and Claesson Koivisto Rune