“When in Rome,” the general go-to drink is naturally vino (duh!), or perhaps a bit of limoncello (yes, please!) or grappa (blech!) to cap off a meal. However, if you want to “do as the Romans do,” drink a cocktail! Particularly an Aperol Spritz: a mix of a bitter Italian liquor called Aperol, prosecco, and soda water. Whichever cocktail you choose, however, there are a few spots in Rome that never disappoint when Luca and I are looking for a well-made one. Below are some of our favorites
This tiny hole in the wall is usually packed with study abroad students getting the shots specials (their list of shots is crazy fun – their most popular ones are Harry Potter themed – and crazy long!), but don’t be deterred: these cute barmen really know what they’re doing when it comes to cocktails! Their Moscow Mule is one of the best I’ve had (gingery deliciousness), and when I’m unsure of what to get, they surprise me with something great to suit my tastes every time! Don’t expect to find a place to sit – take your drink outside like a real Roman and take in the crowded cobblestone streets of Trastevere.
This gem of a cocktail bar is grungy and dim – the perfect atmosphere to get a little warm and tipsy with their signature drinks. Here, I prefer the Aviator or Absinthe (served in the typical way over a sugar cube) – in the dingy atmosphere I feel like Ernest Hemingway getting drunk in 1920’s Paris :] The crowd here can range from locals to students depending on the night, but the people aren’t what we go for. If there’s a spot, sit at the bar – the barmen mix the cocktails like pieces of art!
In the Center (Centro Storico):
A short walk from Campo dei Fiori or Piazza Navona, this is the real speakeasy experience. You have to give a password at the door (check the website), and inside it’s crowded, dark, and jazz is playing. Don’t try to go without a reservation: trust me, you won’t get in. Make the reservation a week in advance by calling the number on their website. In my experience, the crowd here isn’t super friendly, so the reason to go is simply the ambience and the well-made cocktails (no vodka). Stay for one to experience it, then head somewhere else for friendlier people.
If you don’t know the address, you’ll never find it! A sprawling space (in Roman terms) situated on one of the winding cobblestone backstreets near Piazza Navona, it’s filled with plush leather sofas and mismatched vintage chairs to sink into. The books and art on the walls are entertaining to get lost in while sipping their drinks in the warm atmosphere. This is a good spot to go for a catch-up with friends, as there is space between tables and the volume is good for conversation.
Typically super-crowded, this is not my favorite cocktail bar to come to, but it has to be mentioned for the delicious, fresh-fruit laden drinks. Literally across the street from the Temple of Hadrian, it’s worth a stop if you’re craving a quality cocktail between the sites in the center (it’s right in there with the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, etc.)
A fun, eclectic crowd hangs out at this great spot near Piazza Venezia. Filled with different little corners to nestle into, you can choose between darts, foosball, and even a piano to play. They show the international sports matches live, and the main room turns into a disco late-night. All their cocktails are good, but I come here for the Dirty Martinis; in Rome, “Martini” is the name of a type of liquor, not a drink, so it’s difficult to find a good vodka martini with olives that this American sometimes craves! Come here for a good time and the sexy hipster crowd.
Another good spot for catching up with friends, this bar is another one with lots of different little rooms to cozy up in – and I do mean cozy: it’s quite tight when they’re crowded, which is most nights. Get there early to grab a table to chat with friends, or try to snag a coveted position in the room with the bar: late night, they have live music.
Did I miss any? Let me know your fave cocktail bars in Rome!