Lonely Planet Writer

Inside 1930: Milan’s most exclusive speakeasy

You could easily mistake it for a Chinese convenience store, with its window of plastic waving cats. But make it past the fake shop front and through a second door and you enter a secret, candlelit world of jazz, cigars and elaborate cocktails.

Could you get a seat at the bar? Image by Stephanie Ong

As the name suggests everything is designed with the 1930s in mind, from the vested waiters to the dulcet tones of Sinatra in the background, the velvet-covered furniture and old gramophone in the corner. As one of the creators Marco Russo describes it, it’s like ‘entering a timeless space, where you can escape the stressful routine of Milan and drink cocktails in a place where experimentation and the bar’s concept are the protagonists’.

Milan’s newest speakeasy. Image by Stephanie Ong

Emphasis is on the intimate atmosphere, created by a membership of 150 that guarantees no shortage of familiar faces. The inventive cocktails are the second draw-card. Printed on a leather scroll is a list of cocktails revolving around the theme of travel, with names such as Les Champs Élysées, The Mississippi River and Sushi (the latter comes with chopsticks and seaweed and really does take like sushi). And for those who miss the illicit pleasure of smoking indoors, clients are at liberty to huff on quality cigars on the bottom floor.

You can even smoke cigars. Image by Stephanie Ong

With no website nor publicly-known address, it’s notoriously hard to access 1930 – which is, of course, part of the allure. The only way to enter is invited by a member or by charming the bar staff at Mag Cafè (owned by the same people). If you’re successful they’ll give you a secret number that allows you to make a reservation. From there you may be granted a membership and maybe even one day a coveted seat by the bar with your name on it – unfortunately, we can’t tell you how, you’ll just have to try your luck.

Words: Stephanie Ong