Lonely Planet Writer

Is Milan's Backdoor 43 the smallest bar in the world?

Imagine a room the size of a walk-in wardrobe, with only four stools, a small bar and shelves overflowing with apothecary vials, whisky bottles and vintage curiosities. It’s the kind of storybook hideout you always wanted as a child – except with the added bonus of quality cocktails tailored specifically to your tastes.

Is Backdoor 43 the world's smallest bar?
Inside the world’s smallest bar. Image by Backdoor 43

Welcome to Backdoor 43 on Ripa di Porta Ticinese in Milan. Billed as the smallest bar in the world (a title they’re hoping to make official by applying to the Guinness World Records), at four metres square, it’s just big enough for you, three friends and the bartender. Book it for 90 minutes at a time and it’s like your own private speakeasy.

You can play chess, you can drink as little or as much as you like (within reason), while some even take advantage of the added privacy to get a little amorous with their loved ones. The discreet bartender also wears a Guy Fawkes mask, which lends them the kind of anonymity that allows patrons to relax unguarded. Meanwhile, everything is catered to your tastes, from the crafted cocktails to the music. It’s this unique bespoke experience that according to co-owner Flavio Angiolillo ‘…makes this place so original. No other place exists like it in the world’.

Backdoor 43 in Milan
Masked barman at Backdoor 43. Image by Backdoor 43

The brainchild of Angiolillo and Marco Russo (they also own neighbouring Mag Bar), the idea began with takeaway cocktails, which is the other main focus of the bar. A small selection of classic cocktails can be ordered from a slot window to the street, which exposes only the hands of the bartender (so no peeking inside!).

The bar and takeaway service is open from 7.30pm to 3am every day. Bookings for the bar should be made around two weeks in advance.

Backdoor 43 in Milan
Check out the world’s smallest bar in Milan. Image by Backdoor 43

Backdoor 43 should be warned though; they’ll have stiff competition from Brooklyn’s Threesome Tollbooth which fits just three people.

By Stephanie Ong