THE OLD FOX: THE OLDEST PUB IN MILAN
Born in 1979, the Old Fox was the first and oldest pub in Milan. Today it is still in the business, and we will tell its story
In Milan, the Old Fox Pub is an institution. It is the first pub in the Milanese city. Today we tell its story and characteristics.
The birth of the Old Fox Pub in Milan
In the post-war period, the Old Fox did not exist. In its place, there was a dairy, where workers used to stop for a snack for lunch. In the following years, the place changes its skin and get inspiration from the carnival. In fact, the carnival parade floats ended just in the square in front of it, and the Meneghin Della Cecca was celebrated. This is the name of the place before Old Fox, La Cecca.
Then, in 1979, here is the pub. Renato Cazzaniga opened it, who first in Milan had the idea of opening an English public house with draft beer and Guinness. The decor was typical of English and Irish pubs; the door was closed, and not everybody could enter.
Forty years have passed since then, and the Old Fox had changed proudly maintaining its identity, a place where even Eric Clapton used to go to when he was in town, and he always felt at home. On the other hand, at the time, of similar places in Milan, there were very few.
In 2003, Daniele Martinelli, the current owner, bought the place. He will soon be joined by Gabriele Glorio, manager and owner, who quickly joined thanks to the understanding of the identity of the Old Fox and the shared passion for quality beers and spirits.
The Old Fox offer
Today, Milan’s Old Fox at the beginning used to have 4 or 5 draft beers now it offers 25 beers on tap. In practice, it is a wall made of draft beers of great impact, which gives space to both craft and industrial beers. “We did it – says Gabriele Glorio, one of the two owners – to meet everyone’s tastes. Not everyone likes artisanal or special beers, so we must be able to satisfy everybody».
Beer is accompanied by two other pillars of the British brewing and gastronomic culture: spirits, hamburgers, and some special dishes. Let’s go step by step and look at every aspect of the Old Fox.
The beers and the Barona brewery
Among the craft beers, those produced by the brewery owned by the Old Fox stand out, where the master brewer is Daniele Martinelli. Barona beer covers ten of the pub’s draft beers, all English-style. The brewery also prepares and collaborates with other Milanese realities and pubs, making ad hoc beers for them or respecting the recipes required (consequently, the beers thus produced for third parties, in beer firm style, are not part of the “Barona” brand.)
The style of Barona beers, as mentioned, are not similar to the American ones and indeed embrace the whole British peninsula. Therefore, English IPA, Pale Ale, Stout, English Bitter, and many others are produced (some Belgian ones are not missing). A particularity is represented by special beers, also created in collaboration this time with cocktail bars. They are beers that, although with hints of bergamot or ginger, remain easy to drink. On the other hand, the Old Fox philosophy is clear: “In our opinion, the spirit of beer must be interpreted in the English sense: you must be able to drink as much as you want without getting tired.” As in England, therefore, where it is not uncommon to see tables filled with cans or mugs, the Old Fox beer has not yet given in hazy, fruity beers, milkshakes, or heavily hopped. In the future, who knows, but the pub’s DNA is expressly faithful to British roots.
Sandwiches made with beer remains
Obviously, not even beer is thrown away. The Old Fox uses threshing or “bran” that remains after grinding the malt, to prepare sandwiches and focaccia. Consequently, it is a fruity and slightly sugary mixture, since the sugars have already been transformed into alcohol during the preparation of the beer.
Old Fox spirits
Old Fox is also known for its collection of spirits, mainly British (Irish and Scottish in the first place), and a few bottles – excellent – of Japanese whiskey.
The Milanese pub is a real collection that brings together about forty top-level bottles, from the classic Caol Ila or Lagavulin to other lesser-known (but not for this reason despicable) distillery bottles. In any case, all the spirits, even from the most famous houses, are particular selections. “We use – says Glorio – bottlers like Gordon & MacPhail, and we keep bottles of whiskey aged in Sassicaia or Madeira barrels.” Other examples are the Japanese, who use water collected at 1000 meters above sea level on Mount Fuji, or the Ardbeg Full Proof.
Among the most loved bottles by Gabriele is the Finlaggan of Islay: the distillery is located near a salty lake, and this gives a particular aftertaste of sea salt. And then among the most loved by Glorio, there is the certified “Bio” Benromach and the Mortlach.
The cuisine and dishes of Old Fox
To live an evening in central London or the Scottish Highlands while remaining in Italy and Milan, the Old Fox offers an extraordinary cuisine.
An example: on January 25, in Scotland, the Burns Night is celebrated, an evening dedicated to the Scottish poet Robert Burns and, consequently, to pride and national traditions. As a result, haggis is eaten, a traditional sausage prepared with sheep’s entrails, to which are added oats, onion, kidney fat, and spices. Here, the Old Fox makes it, then serving it with side potatoes and whiskey sauce.
The haggis, however, is one of the special dishes, while on the menu, there are always hamburgers and steak pie, a pie with the stew that can be enjoyed with mushrooms or fish. In addition to burgers, there are club sandwiches and classic English desserts, such as apple pie and Stout beer cake.
In short, the five guys who make up the Old Fox team are keeping alive a piece of history of the Milanese city and have relaunched one of the first genuinely British-style pubs in Italy.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)