Il Sal8, or when spoken out loudly, ‘Il Salotto,’ is one of Tuscany’s best bars that does its name justice. During Florence cocktail week, the bar’s signature cocktail Pinolino, made with Ginarte Dry Gin, honey and fermented pine water cordial, was voted the best in the Livorno area. ‘Salotto’ means living room in Italian, a cosy open space, where family, friends, and new acquaintances gather to chat, have a good laugh, drink something nice, and maybe have a bite. All this you’ll get at Il Sal8.
Bar agricolo means agricultural bar. Il Sal8 lies on a hill, faces the sea, and is probably the most dreamy spot you can imagine watching a sunset. That’s not the only reason why Il Sal8 is called agricultural. Another reason for this is because most of the ingredients come from their garden. Cocktails in summer will look very different from those in spring or autumn. Everything is dependent on the herbs and flowers growing during each season.
Three smiling and welcoming faces greet you once you arrive at the beautiful spot in San Vincenzo. Giulio, Federico, and Cinza seem to be a dream team, creating and serving the most impressive and creative cocktails. Giulio, the owner, is also the son of Francesca, whom I talked about earlier. He has owned the bar for many years now, changing bartenders now and then. However, with Frederico whom he met in Rome over a year ago, he says that the teamwork is just smooth; it clicked. They complete each other’s work perfectly. If they’re not currently mixing cocktails, they’re talking about new flavour compositions or drinking their favourite cocktails: an extraordinary Daiquiri (there was one made with Nespole this summer) or Negroni Mezcal. The latter one I fell in love with, too.
In the beginning, Giulio told me, it proved to be a bit tricky to convince people from the village down in San Vincenzo to pay more than 5€ for a cocktail. Why spend so much on a cocktail? People soon understood, though, that at Il Sal8, you don’t just get simple Mojitos. If you get a Mojito, believe me, it will be extraordinary! All the cocktails are made with the best ingredients, carefully sourced, and regional where possible. You will experience a blend of incredible tastes. Homemade lacto fermented cordials, lavender dusted drinks, liquors from the region especially and the best ones from all over the world, vodka infused with cypresses, charred ingredients, basically a flavour explosion in a glass.
Nowadays, people from the whole region travel here to try Giulio’s and Federico’s cocktails. They’ve become famous in the area and even get asked by other top cocktail bars for tips and tricks. Giulio is always open to new projects. He wants to create fun experiences to keep his customers happy and for himself to stay excited and passionate, too.
The food served at Il Sal8 is in spirit similar to the food you’ll eat at Il Sale, but a bit easier, a bit simpler. Tagliere – platters with Italian ham and cheese – Focaccia, dips, and snacks, all are homemade and from the region. During summers, there is a big fireplace where Florentinian steaks are sizzling to perfection. When I was there, I got a plate of ham – one of the best hams I’ve eaten in a long time – with a bit of bread and sweet caramelised onions fried over an open fire. Simple in theory, yet such a comforting dish.
The place itself is very cosy inside. In spring and summer, there are seats and tables outside, people mingle and have fun while enjoying their drinks and food. Sometimes, there’s also live music. I can’t imagine anything more perfect.