An Insider’s Guide to the Best Bars in Venice

Here’s where Rudi Carraro, Global Brand Ambassador for Venice’s own Select Aperitivo, drinks in the floating city

July 28, 2023 7:53 am
Select Apertivo
Venice's home-grown apertif, Select.
Select Apertivo

Venice is undoubtedly one of the most captivating cities on the planet. It’s bursting with centuries of history, grand palazzos, glamours hotels, storybook gondolas and, come summer, lots and lots of tourists. 

If you’re one of the lucky many with Venice on your travel schedule this season, and you’d rather not wander aimlessly with the crowds, you’ll want to arrive with a plan. And while we can’t hold your hand throughout your entire stay, we can help with one particularly important part of any Italian sojourn — knowing where to drink. For the inside track on the best bars in Venice, we turned to Rudi Carraro, an award-winning bartender and Global Brand Ambassador for Venice’s homegrown, go-to aperitif, Select.

Born and raised outside of Venice, Carraro’s bartending career began humbly at a hometown pub. From there, he made his way to London and quickly graduated to the major leagues, nabbing a job at the then center of the cocktail-making universe — Artesian at London’s The Langham hotel. There, from 2011 to 2015, Carraro served as a senior bartender, and Artesian was named the #1 bar in the world four years in a row by The World’s 50 Best Bars. After a stint designing the bar program for Michelin-starred chef Gregory Marchand’s Frenchie Covent Garden, Carraro then returned to Venice to step into his current role, which sees him spreading the gospel of aperitifs as the man behind Select’s global bartender education, masterclasses and trade events.

Importantly, for purposes of your Venetian imbibing and for those unfamiliar with Select, it’s the star ingredient in a Venetian Spritz (Select, Prosecco, club soda, garnished with a green olive) and something you’ll find in every Venice bar you enter. Consider Select Aperol’s less famous yet more complex sibling, with a recipe that involves a blend of 30 aromatic botanicals and a nine-month production process that hasn’t changed since the company’s founding in the heart of Venice in 1920. And new this summer, ideal for sampling a Venetian Spritz right from the source, Select has debuted Ca’ Select, a distillery and visitor center open for tours and tastings of their deep, ruby red concoction in the Cannaregio district of the city.

Vibrant-colored room with retro aesthetic with lounge chairs and a bar.
Ca’ Select, a distillery and visitor center open for tours and tastings of Select Aperitivo.

Rudi Carraro’s 5 Favorite Bars in Venice, Italy

Aside from Select’s new distillery, here are Rudi Carraro’s favorite places to drink in Venice, plus his (unsurprisingly) Select-heavy suggestions on what to order when you’re ready to venture beyond a Venetian Spritz. 

Arts Bar at the St. Regis 

“One of the many great things about Arts Bar is that it’s one of the few late night bars in the city; a divine hangout when you’re looking for a world-class cocktail in the early hours. It’s also a good place to bring visitors to the city because it’s right in beautiful St. Mark’s Square, in the heart of the action. My favorite time to stop by is for sunset on the terrace (another one of the very few in Venice), which has an incredible view of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute. If you’d rather sit inside, the decor is modern and oozes refined, casual elegance with plush seating and dim lights. Inside, you’ll also get to see head bartender Facundo Gallegos do his work. He’s an alumni of London’s iconic The Connaught and The Dorchester hotels, and he’s really a master of the classics.” 

My order: “The Dodge’s Tipple is my go-to drink here and is made with artichoke-infused Punt e Mes (an Italian vermouth) and Select Aperitivo. And be sure to get an order of fries to snack on as they’re some of the best you’ll ever taste.” 

85 of the Best Bars in the Country
Want advice on where to drink? We asked the people who know best.

The Bar at Aman

“Located in the Rialto district and within the legendary Aman, one of if not the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in the world, the cocktails here have won awards, and the bar team excels at making you feel as comfortable as you would at home. Led by Antonio Ferrara, the esteemed bartender who has helmed the bar since it opened in 2013, The Bar at Aman is celebrating its ten year anniversary this year. The decor showcases Italy’s exceptional flare for architecture and classical artworks in a clean cut, marble-floored masterpiece of a room that overlooks a secret garden beside the Grand Canal (one of the few secret gardens in Venice). The property is so special that George Clooney chose to get married here for its breathtaking beauty and incredible drinking and dining experiences.” 

My order: “My favorite drink on the current menu is called Vigorous, made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Fino Sherry, Select Aperitivo and cardamom bitters.”

Venice M’Art

“Another Rialto district gem, Venice M’Art is one for the modern hipster crowd and is a contrast to the other, more classical cocktail spots on this list. It’s incredibly approachable and always buzzing with locals (and tourists in the know). Make sure you sit on the terrace for a unique point of view on Rialto’s bridge, whilst sampling their cocktails and nibbling on a few delicious bites.”

My order: “It’s not on the main menu, but I recommend ordering a Venetian Americano here, which is simply Select Aperitivo and vermouth topped with soda. Refreshing and delicious!”

Experimental Cocktail Club Venice

“This bar transforms with the seasons, from an intimate and cozy speakeasy vibe in the winter, due to its smaller size, to a vibrant and bustling summer hangout with canal-side seating and a secret garden at the back. The crowd here includes young and modern locals from all over the city, and it’s also popular with tourists who recognize the Experimental name from the brand’s collection of Experimental hotels and bars around Europe (in places like Paris, London and Ibiza). The music here ranges from electronic and jazz in the early evenings to 90s bangers that guests can bop to later in the evening.”

My order: “The cocktail list here employs many local ingredients and local brands. My favorite cocktail is called Stronger, which combines Select Aperitivo with rum and tequila for a bracing weekend sipper.”

Caffé Florian

“Another Venetian icon, Florian Café is a must. Incredibly, it’s the oldest café in Europe and is located right in the heart of St. Mark’s Square — one of the world’s most famous city squares. A wonderful band usually plays throughout the day, which anchors Caffé Florian’s one-of-a-kind experience. Here you can wind down after a bacaro tour while soaking up the city’s two personalities: its more down-to-earth and laid-back side, juxtaposed with its authentic but touristy flair. While this bar is one of the most expensive on this list (a charge for the band applies), it’s definitely worth it for a true taste of Venice and an unforgettable memory.”

My order: “Stick to the classics here and you won’t be disappointed. My top three include the Negroni, Bellini or a Sgroppino.”

Pro tip: “Afterwards, sample a taste of some of the traditional cicchetti bars close by, like Magna Bevi Tasi.”


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