Searching for a Good Martini in Rome

A friend recently opined that the last time he visited Rome, the wine was fabulous but he couldn’t find any place where they made a good martini.  Our response: you just didn’t go to the right place(s). So, when they visited us in Rome, the hunt was on. Our first stop was a new place that claims the honor of being Rome’s first gin joint, the Gin Corner, a few minutes walk from us in the Hotel Adriano.

The Gin Corner - an amazing wall of, well, gin
The Gin Corner – an amazing wall of, well, gin

Alas, as we sat down in the little bar, our friend announced he was more of a vermouth man. Well, despite the name of the bar, the terrific bartender served him a perfectly good vermouth martini, while the rest of us sampled several fabulous, refreshing G&Ts.

Drinks at the Gin Corner
Drinks at the Gin Corner

A day later, we tried to go to a new restaurant. Funny thing about places in Rome: sometimes the website or Facebook page says they are open, and then you show up and it’s … closed. So, since we had been out and about all day, and with the trauma of finding where we wanted to get some beers shut tight, we needed drinks somewhere else. Now. The venerable Caffè della Pace was nearby, so we gave it a try. The ivy hanging down the building certainly gives it great charm. and it’s a great place for people watching.

Bar della Pace
Caffe della Pace

Make sure to take a peek at the lovely old bar inside, too:

Interior of Bar della Pace
Interior of  Caffe della Pace

And, once again, our friend found a good martini … so we sat in the sun, nibbling and drinking.

Snacks and drinks at Bar della Pace
Snacks and drinks at Caffe della Pace

Our next martini stop was in the elegant Salone Eva, up the street from us as the Hassler Hotel.

Salone Eva
Salone Eva

It also proved to be our last. For it was here that our friend found his perfect martini, with a great bartender, in elegant yet warm surroundings. This became his preferred spot for a martini in the Eternal City for the rest of his stay …

So, if you think the only thing to drink in Rome is wine, I’m happy to say you need to open your mind. Craft beer and cocktail spots are popping up, and there are quite a few places to keep you happily sipping — for some great recommendations, check out the new AFAR guide section on “Where to Drink” in Rome by local expert Katie Parla.