Cocktails

Cocktails

By
Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi
Contains
3 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781784880040
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

It would be impossible to summarise Rome’s buzzing nightlife in a couple of paragraphs, but out of our many trips there two bars shone out through the dark of the night and attracted us like moths to the flame. First, The Jerry Thomas Project, a dimly lit speakeasy in central Rome, now rated one of the best bars in the world. Its red lacquered walls and damask gold print wallpapers make you feel like you are in an opium den, until you see the shelves displaying years of liquor collection and obsession. The original Jerry Thomas wrote the famous cocktail recipe book How to Mix Drinks, also known as The Bon Vivant’s Companion, in 1862. For many, including Leonardo Leuci, it has been a bible and was the inspiration for his outstanding bar hidden away in a backstreet of Rome. You need to know the answer to a cocktail related question on their website to get in or get on the guest list. Leonardo likes to show off Italy’s forgotten spirits and his mind-blowing concoctions are prepared by bearded men in waistcoats who look like they are straight out of 1920s New York.

Secondly, we love the Akbar in Trastevere, whose eclectic and inviting interior pulls you off the street and into a bar-cum-restaurant that breaks tradition by serving cocktails and food. We loved the aperitivo evenings where you can eat inexpensively from a buffet.

Roman bars have been in existence for over 2,000 years. In 4th century BC there was already a grid of streets with bars that had counters and mosaic pictorial menus for the illiterate. Signs for these popinae were painted with symbols, like the ‘three cups’, so they were easily recognised, and this was the origins of modern pub signs. People stood to eat or sat on stools and benches. So don your toga, pour yourself one of the following cocktails and serve some of the antipasti such as the Globi (Cheese and Honey Pastries), the Hot Fish Pickle with creamy ricotta on crispy Lagana, or a slice of Pizza Bianca Romana.

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