The Italian love affair with coffee is just one thing you’ll encounter sipping your way around Puglia. Once the espresso goes down, it’s time to consider the area’s wines, with vineyards sewn into the volcanic and calcareous soil, or perhaps make time for the growing crop of local craft beers. But best of all are the cocktails – this is the country that gave us both the Aperol Spritz and the Negroni. And if you think you know these classic apertifs, just wait until you’ve tried the Pugliese twists. This is where the region’s bartenders shine, putting a savvy local spin on drinks that lets you experience them as if for the first time.
Leccese coffee in Lecce
Invented in (and named after) the main city of the Salento Peninsula, Leccese coffee is a summer-friendly iced coffee topped with almond syrup. There are plenty of places to sample it, but an ideal destination is the Avio Bar. Owner Luigi De Mitri uses only natural ingredients for his variation on the local treat, meaning you’ll enjoy a cup free of gels and powders. Beyond the refreshing Leccese itself, make sure to take some of the house-made coffee liqueur, jams and bean blends home with you.
Monna Lisa Caffè, Ostuni
This intimate bar is known far and wide for its inventiveness. Set in a cosy location that’s part al fresco seating, part underground oasis, the Monna Lisa is an ideal source of respite after a full day exploring Ostuni. Head bartender Leonardo Giorgini can whip up a unique drink calibrated to your current mood, while still using local ingredients and unexpected variations on tried-and-true classics. Start with the house take on the Negroni.
Antica Enotria, Cerignola
Like many highlights of modern Puglia, this 12-hectare organic winery has been restored to reflect its origins – in this case, a farm dating back to 1700. Situated comfortably close to the Gulf of Manfredonia, Antica Enotria produces its own olive oil, as well as grilled artichokes and cherry tomatoes. But the wines are the main attraction, with an emphasis on local reds rounded out by a solid range of whites and rosés.
Botromagno winery, Gravina
Owned and run by the D’Agostino family since 1991, this popular winery stands out in part thanks to Gravina, an organic white wine grape named for the region in which it’s produced. From the start, Botromagno has set out to highlight Puglia’s native grapes and ancient winemaking techniques in tandem with modern perspectives and technology. Reds, whites and rosés are well covered, but don’t neglect the special range of organic wines, each cultivated with scrupulous attention to detail.
Mamma Elvira Enoteca, Lecce
If you’re looking to venture beyond the cellar doors and rub shoulders with the locals, look no further than this hip wine bar in Lecce. Opened in 2011, Mamma Elvira showcases a robust breadth of exclusively Pugliese wines (some 250 and counting), as well as local beers, chilled cocktails and snack plates. Since few travellers have time to get to every winery in the region, consider this your opportunity to cherrypick the best without leaving the building.
Aperol Spritz at Coffee & More
A much-loved cafe situated squarely in Ostuni’s fabled “white city”, Coffee & More is the kind of place where morning brews give way to sunset cocktails. Enjoy either at your leisure in the leafy gardens, which are carefully designed to include a view of the sea. Bonus: the food here is great, from lasagne to seafood to cheese and cured meat. If there’s any place in Puglia to settle in for a patently Italian Aperol Spritz, it’s right here.
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