There is no better assignment for me than finding out where the best cocktails in my hometown are. And since I believe in intense research and trial and error, I had a great time investigating Rome's Top Three Cocktail Bars for Forbes Travel, originally appearing in publication on May 26, 2015. Dove facciamo aperitivi (“Where are we going to get drinks tonight”)? That’s a question heard often in Rome, a city where mixology is blended into everything these days, but sometimes leaving a bit of sour retrogusto. But these days, cocktail connoisseurs aren’t much worried about any unpleasant aftertastes, especially considering how many maestro mixologists across the city are conceiving inimitable cocktails with incredible presentation. For your next night of fabulous drinking around Rome, we’ve got three places in mind.
Chorus Caffe Chorus is Rome’s newest lounge bar and it has all the necessary ingredients for an incredible aperitivo: exemplary cocktails, sunset hours and a great location. Though the neighborhood is a bit quiet (Chorus is literally down the street from the Vatican), the lounge bar is nothing short of a libation lover’s paradise thanks to original 1920s Art Deco design that sets a modern vintage vibe (see high ceilings, a wall of windows, original marble, velvet divans and a glowing bar counter). Behind the bar is Massimo d’Addezio, considered one of Italy’s top bartenders and the man who brought back cocktails to Rome. D’Addezio lovingly creates drinks (the 17 ½ is made with vodka, lime juice, passion flower syrup, crushed ice, cayenne pepper essence and mint leaves) inspired by experiences and tastes. He also enjoys rehashing traditional favorites. His bar has a full range of liquors, some of them so unique it’s almost a shame to drink them. Almost.
Caffè Propaganda(Colosseo) Styled as a café littéraire (harlequin floors, white tiles, dramatic chandeliers, an oak credenza), the Francophile-inspired Caffè Propaganda pulled a cocktail coup d’état at the start of 2015 by bringing in one of Rome’s top bartenders, Patrick Pistolesi, to helm its vintage bar. Pistolesi revamped the cocktail list, creating a seasonal menu of 13 original recipes that use Italian favorites like chinotto, fernet, Cocchi Americano and Campari, as well as staples such as Amer Picon, Lillet and rye. The overall vibe here is laid-back chic, so many people come just to hang out at the gorgeous white zinc bar and chat with Pistolesi, who is incredibly gracious not just in how he makes the Cinquieme Arrondissement (gin, jasmine and Mandarin Sambuca, lime, sugar and a splash of red wine) or Jimmy Hoffa (rye, syrup and aromatic bitter), but in sharing the inspiration behind the drinks.
The Deer Club (Centro Storico) Built in a 15th-century palazzo, boutique hotel D.O.M is the perfect mix of naughty and nice. The palace is attached to a Baroque church on its back end; meanwhile, D.O.M. faces the headquarters of Italy’s Anti-Mafia Commission. The juxtaposition is divine, and so is The Deer Club, a truly Roman trifecta of bar, restaurant and rooftop terrace. The former is a tiny gray- and black-lacquered lounge area that is just big enough for a few of your closest friends to have a gin-infused tête-à-tête with Davide Guglielmelli and Valerio Bonanni’s beautifully arranged cocktails. The Martinez (Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, Maraschino and orange bitter) and Suit & Tie (Cognac, Cocchi Barolo Chinato, crème de cacao blanc, sugar syrup, orange and chocolate bitters) are two of our favorites right now.