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The Art of the Apero

Surprisingly, considering its host of excellent wines, Italy is a huge cocktail country — and Milan is no different. The city's most famous liquor export is the Campari, whose namesake bar at the foot of the Duomo remains a popular place for evening libation. And the cocktail associated most closely with Milan is also Campari-based: the fire-colored Negroni, ideally served with a shaved orange peel and one large ice cube (Dry makes an excellent version).

Best of all, however, the city has fully embraced the art of the apero-cena, a genius combination of drink and snacks. In humbler places a small buffet, often comprising cold cuts, cheese, olives and chips, is set up on the bar, and anyone who pays for a drink gets access to the goods. In fancier cocktail bars, the snacks are delivered to the tables. In fact, many of the city's best apero-cena include such beautifully prepared, varied and abundant offerings that many diners forgo dinner altogether.

Going for apero-cena is a typical Milanese activity. Here are some good spots to try. Note that drinks are always served with some chips and olives, but the food part (the cena) doesn’t really kick off until around 6:30/7pm.

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Published onFebruary 5, 2016

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