Thursday, July 30, 2015
Where to Drink in Italy: Ditta Artigianale, a surprising gin and coffee bar in Florence
I went to Florence because it was the birthplace of the Renaissance. I wanted to see Brunelleschi's famous and world-changing dome. I wanted to walk the medieval streets and take in some art. But then I stumbled on Ditta Artigianale: a coffee roaster and, for some reason, an epic gin bar. Sorry, Michelangelo's David, I've got some gin to imbibe.
The funny thing about Ditta Artigianale is that, on the surface, it seems like any speciality coffee place in San Francisco or Austin. They roast their own beans and sling pour overs—the works of which you'd find at any self-respecting hipster coffee shop in the States.
And while we might find that every three blocks in San Francisco or Austin, it's extremely rare in Italy. In fact, it's the only one we saw in the 12 days we spent in the country.
From the outside, the place reminded both me and Noelle of our favorite coffee shops back home, so we rolled in primarily for espresso. It was bustling and smelled delicious, full of coffee accoutrements, and staffed by know-it-all but friendly baristas—just how we like it in the States.
We ordered our espresso and took a look around. The usual hipster markers laid in place: a turntable, big open windows, community advertisements pinned to the walls, and shiny, glass Hario coffee accessories for sale on wall shelves. The wooden seats were crowded with people sipping artisan coffee and chatting.
That's when we noticed the gin.
And oh, such gin. Entire shelves of gin. Gin from America, from Italy. Gin from France and England. The shelves were laden with labels that are not currently distributed in our parts of the States.
It was a bit early for alcohol, but when in Florence, right? We awkwardly approached the barista and asked about the gins. Surprisingly, the fellow was more than willing to recommend his favorite gins and even pour us a few samples.
This Old English Gin by Hammer and Son was more than your average gin. It tasted of a perfect, text book London gin: heavy juniper, good bite, tiny bit of citrus, and of course delicious.
G'vine is a French gin (that a French producer would create what's classically British? Miracles!), and the cute name comes from what the liquor is made of: grape spirits. The result is a more viscous gin, which can be off-putting if you're used to a London Dry. It might give you the illusion that the gin is sweet, even if it's not. Just give yourself time to get used to. It's worth it.
Drink more gin, indeed.
It seems the shop was just as proud of their gin collection as they were of their coffee. It makes sense, too, why shouldn't coffee people also be booze people? This coffee shop / bar showed us the potential of such combinations in the states. It is easy to imagine that the place is packed from open to close, the crowds gradually shifting from morning coffee drinkers to evening G&T sippers.
The entire gin list.
On the way out, the barista recommended we try Fusion, Florence's one and only craft cocktail bar. Check that out in a future post coming soon.
Via Neri, 32R Firenze, Italy.
8am-2pm from Monday to Thursday