With the warm weather comes the circus of summer cocktails. You know the ones I’m talking about – the rum punch, the pina colada, the margarita, etc. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with any one these (I happen to be fond of an authentic rum punch), most have been Americanized with the addition of sweet syrups and pre-made mixes that have more chemicals than natural ingredients.
Allow us to offer up an alternative. The Americano.
(Yes, there is a drink and a coffee version)
The Americano cocktail is an International Bartender’s Association (IBA) official drink. Although you may not often see it ordered in a bar, it remains a classic. The cocktail was first served in creator Gaspare Campari‘s bar in the 1860s. Similar to the origin story of the cafe Americano (the coffee), the story maintains that the Italians noticed a surge of Americans who enjoyed drinking the red cocktail – at that time it was called the Milano-Torino. And as a nod to the Americans, the cocktail later became known as the Americano.
It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but there is only one way to find out if you like it!
What you’ll need
Campari is a bitter Italian aperitif and usually hovers at just over 20% alcohol. It is the result of an infusion of herbs and fruit and is characterized by its bright red color. The liqueur was invented all the way back in 1860 and at that time, the red color was actually the result of carmine dye – derived from crushed insects. This was true up until 2006, when the manufacturer stopped using carmine dye, altogether.
Regardless, Campari has been around for a long time. And aside from being an essential ingredient in the classic Negroni, we use it here in the Americano.
Note: If you want to step down the alcoholic content, try substituting Aperol for Campari. It has about half the alcohol content of Campari and even smells and tastes similar.
There are a handful of great vermouth brands out there, grab whatever you have handy.
Dealer’s choice with the soda water. Brett and I prefer the cheap stuff since we can’t honestly taste a difference between budget soda water and the European cousins when mixed.
Old fashioned glass
An old fashioned drink calls for an old fashioned glass!
We recommend large ice cubes for an updated look and feel. And if it’s hot outside, one large piece of ice will last longer than smaller pieces. Brett and I even went so far as to use one singular ice cube – one that almost fills the glass completely. Just promise us that you won’t use the sad little ice chunks that you find at the corners of your ice cube try.
For garnish! Or, swim upstream and try a grapefruit.
How to make it
Step 1: Mix
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
Combine in the glass over ice
Step 2: Top with soda
Add soda water to your liking. But err on the side of just a splash.
Step 3: Garnish
Carefully peel the orange and add a twist to the glass.
So, there you have it, the Americano. Super easy.
It’s an aperitif that’s perfect for a hot summer afternoon. And one that goes great with a short sleeve linen shirt and seersucker shorts, but that’s a different story.
By Ryan Wagner
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