From Harry's Bar to the Negroni sbagliato
Martini Rosso, bitter Campari... And prosecco. Simple, like imbibing a Negroni “sbagliato”, which substitutes the original formula’s sparkling wine with a hearty dose of gin. The variant was in fact a mistake, as the word “sbagliato” (sbaglio in Italian means, ‘error’) but immediately and widely appreciated in the mixology world. Who is behind this fortunate 1968 invention? Venetian born Mirko Stocchetto, born in the year 1931, and professional barman whose experience began in his hometown Venice at prestigious Harry's Bar under Giuseppe Cipriani (Arrigo was his contemporary). After this training he chooses to move to Milan and make this his home from the mid-Sixties. He opens a first bar in the Porta Vigentina area, but soon after moves to via Plinio, taking over the bar that had belonged to Giuseppe Basso and which is destined to become a Milan stalwart. Like many places in Milan at the time, Bar Basso maintained history of a vivacious cultural past, when architects and designers would crowd the counter seeking a fine cocktail. Maestro Stocchetto, without even using a jigger – necessary tool for measuring doses – could assemble a drink perfectly “by eye”.
Bar Basso, the aperitivo spot in Milan
Mirko Stocchetto during his career developed over one hundred cocktails (including the Rossini). At age 86, after a lifetime invested in the art of mixology, entertainment and hospitality, the world and the city of Milan with a slew of loyal aficionados, has been saluted in a touching homage and final tribute. Many remember him as the progenitor of the Milan cocktail scene. He loved drinking Champagne but also could not do without his beloved cocktails. He was a great gentleman, and served drinks to people like Ernest Hemingway; worked in Cortina in the golden age of musical evenings hosted by Peppino di Capri; flew on the first two-engine planes of AerAlpi owned by Duke of Acquarone. This was indeed a golden era, “ice used to be hauled in 1-metre blocks and carved with a chainsaw”. Milan was just starting to discover cocktails, Stocchetto served them in large glasses that attracted people’s attention.
The art of hospitality
More recently, Stocchetto – with the aid of his son Maurizio, who is ready to take the baton – further invested in the business. A year ago he added a kitchen as support to the bar. The biggest commitment however, and to the very end, was passing down the passion for his profession to younger generations. Rule number one? Knowing how to behave with customers. Times change, the art of hospitality is still confined to a few professionals. Hopefully all inspired by the heritage left to them by Mirko Stocchetto.
by Livia Montagnoli