Camparino: the rebirth of the establishment in Milan in the words of Tommaso Cecca

The barman and store manager sums up for Identità Golose four years of work in the Galleria, celebrated with the entrance, at number 27, in the World's 50 Best Bars

Milan continues to grow. Despite the pandemic, the opening and closings. Despite the difficult movements, the lower number of tourists and businessmen from abroad, the city continues its journey of development and strengthening of the brand that has been taking place for over a decade now.

We must thank the World Fair, the Starchitects who projected this city into the sky, literally. Thanks to fashion and design, to the Saloni and the "Weeks", which have become international not-to-be-missed events. We must also celebrate the hospitality and restaurant industry, which have managed to understand and build on the good opinion these two universes have been enjoying in Italy and all around the world.

And a non-neglectable part of Milan's success is to be attributed to the bars which have evolved over the years, to channel that way of drinking – a little snob and bauscia of the Eighties – towards a dimension where cocktails and mixology have a significant importance in the city narrative, in its daily life. This is, after all, where brands like Branca and RamazzottiZucca and Isolabella, and most of all Campari became a tradition, made history.

It was 1867 when, in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Caffè Campari opened. In its laboratories they invented Bitter and Cordiale. Today, 150 years later, the heir of that place, Camparino in Galleria, opened in 1915 by Davide Campari, has entered the Gotha of the World’s 50 Best Bars.

They're at number 27. And for a new entry this is almost like a shortlist. An award to Milan, to Campari, to the work that for four years now the team guided by store manager Tommaso Cecca has done to bring back to its old splendour this nice establishment set in a Liberty-style building overlooking Piazza Duomo.

Tommaso Cecca

Tommaso Cecca

«Being included in this list gives you a wonderful feeling – says Cecca, 34 from Puglia but based in Milan for many years now – and being acknowledged among the best establishments in the world is for us a great honour. A reward for the commitment and the road we have taken to give ourselves a new dimension, and an international standard of quality, the result of research, relationships, communication and branding and lots of team work. Camparino is not just a bar, but a historic point of reference in town and, today thanks to this award too, of the highest quality and the highest level of innovation in the world of mixology. Seeing ourselves at number 27 among the best bars in the world repays us and motivates us to seek excellence in our work each day».

A disciple of Salvatore Calabrese, from whom he drew many secrets of the profession when he was in London, Cecca was launched in the Milanese scene at Café Trussardi, one of the bars where, in the early 2000s, the dull habit of buffet aperitivos was replaced and transformed into fine mixology. Concepts he then applied to Camparino in Galleria after the maison in Sesto San Giovanni reacquired it in 2017 to turn it into its flagship store. With excellent results.

«Every day we serve 1500 people, many of whom are foreigners. We have an excellent exposure, a young, dynamic and agile management. The team behind the bar is formed by 9 barmen, many of whom young and very willing to grow. Camparino has a double soul. In the same place we join two ways of drinking: the classic Italian bar, the so-called Bar di Passo on the ground floor, where you can have something quick, often standing. And on the first floor we try to raise our standards with a focus on what's contemporary and on a futuristic mixology, offering also food and a relaxing after-dinner experience».

The rooms on the top floor

The rooms on the top floor

Two souls and two somewhat different offers.

«Campari is part of the history – says Cecca – and in our drink list you can find classics prepared for over 100 years, which we made neater, and on which we worked on technique. At Bar di Passo, Campari Seltz dominates, we serve over 400 each day. It's only seemingly simple because the addition of Seltz must be carefully dosed to create a thick and delicate foam that blends with the bitter note of the Campari. And then there's the Campari shakerato, our archetype of perfection, where only wisdom and the skill of the barman can add that unique and unmistakable texture».

Bar di Passo

Bar di Passo

And how has the taste for cocktails evolved in Milan and around the world?

«Today, and this is confirmed by the 50 Best, people drink very well, and I'd say always better. Even in Italy, where a cocktail culture has developed to which we're trying to give our contribution. Tastes change, trends are born and change the same way it happened for food. Thirty years ago people went to the restaurant to eat. Now we go to enjoy an experience. The same happened with bars. These are no longer places where you can have a drink, but a chance to spend time together and discover something, a chance to taste and experiment. In Italy we surely have a leadership in the widespread presence of many excellent bars. Of course London is London – and I must compliment my friends at Connaught for confirming their leadership in the World’s 50 Best – but outside London there are not many remarkable places. Here, instead, you can drink well everywhere. The trend is for sure that of low alcohol, aperitivos with a low percentage of alcohol, plus we've gone beyond the simple bitter-sweet pair. Today even in mixology we have many more sensations, some closer to cuisine, like floral and citric, sapid and mineral».

How do you interpret these trends at Camparino?

«Of course, for us the flavour of Bitter wins, it's the most popular and we've invested in research and technique to give a new take to some of our classics. We've done an incredible job with Negroni with the team of bartenders to create a contemporary drink. We've called it L’Ora del Bitter in which to a classic Campari and Vermouth Rosso Cinzano we add two parts of a reduction of Negroni and a Negroni distillato. There was lots of work behind this, and the result is a drink with sweetness, acidity and a lower alcohol percentage that give life to a mix of pure and full flavours. With Compadre we created a concept Negroni. Mezcal replaces gin, and on top of Campari and Vermouth rosso we add a liquor of Chinotto and a syrup of agave. A smoky, complex drink with an intriguing texture».

A cocktail worthy of the World’s 50 Best.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Shake & shock

The world of cocktails and bartenders as told by Identità Golose.


Maurizio Trezzi

journalist, born in 1966, a graduate in Physics, today he works in communication. He reported on two Olympic Games and 5 athletics world cups for Eurosport. A great lover of fine food, Caribbean rum and golf

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