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Nottingham Forest

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1 Viale Piave, Milan, Italy

By Hamish Smith

In Italy, if bartenders agree on anything it is that Nottingham Forest is a cathedral of Italian bartending expression. Head priest of this temple of mixology is Dario Comino – the quiet, humble owner-operator who must be considered the most important bartender working on Italian soil today.

He might not have the international reputation of his molecularly-leaning contemporaries but he is every bit as pioneering. Indeed, if his tome on mixology was published in English, we’d probably find half the things we thought were first seen in London, were actually masterminded in Milan. Fermentation in cocktails? Clarification of ingredients? Comino was doing this stuff while the rest of the world was arguing over Jerry Thomas recipes. 

On the menu right now is a bounty of beguiling concoctions to make the palate tingle. Quite literally. The Amazonian flower you eat as a prelude to one drink causes the liquid to change its flavour in your mouth. Your face will buzz like a drugged banshee until you are set upon by your next drink, which is flavoured with a Vietnamese cheese tree leaf and comically served in a Converse trainer. 

It’s all mad stuff – and so is the artefact-strewn décor, but somehow that works too. The bar is framed in old wood but festooned with souvenirs from Comini’s travels. Three hammocks are suspended, there’s a Buddha, masks, baskets, oh, and 2,175 bottles of spirits. Comini is also programming robots to make cocktails. Don’t try to understand the insanity, just embrace it – it’s of the good sort.