When riffs of classic cocktails are made, they are usually lost in the noise… But this specific cocktail has stood the test of time and recipes- The Americano. A unique drink that is known for its bittersweet taste thanks to the main ingredient- Campari. Negroni fans, don’t cringe, not all occasions call for gin. Nostalgia fans might remember it as the first drink mentioned in the James Bond novels, which is a big reason why it is so popular today. If it is good enough for Bond, we think it is good enough for us.
The Americano is a popular cocktail that is the perfect introduction for those new to the unique and bitter taste of Campari.
The recipe calls for even parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and a splash of soda water. The Campari berry color makes for a bright and refreshing cocktail that isn’t too strong. Ranking at a 9% ABV the drink is considered quite gentle, even though it packs an 18 proof, making it a perfect drink to sip on without getting too tipsy. Those not fans of Negronis (hide from your Negroni friends) will enjoy this introduction to bitter cocktails.
Americanos are typically made with what is known as the build technique. This means the drink is made directly in the glass and without the aid of a cocktail shaker or any other complicated instruments.
Simply add ice to the glass, pour in the Campari and Vermouth over the ice, add in a splash of soda water, and garnish with an orange or lemon slice if you wish.
Given that Campari damn near invented the cocktail, it definitely affects the taste of the drink, giving it a bitter taste but don’t fret- when made well- it is well balanced with the sweet Vermouth.
If you’re having it at dinner know that- because the Americano isn’t a super strong cocktail, it is known to be the perfect drink to enjoy before a meal. It pairs well with Chinese food, brisket, smoked meats, and even grilled veggies and fish.
Some folks replace the Campari with Aperol, Mariana’s best friend, however if you would like to stick to tradition we beg you try it with Campari first.. The difference is subtle- Campari will give it more of a woody bitterness mixed with berries and rhubarb, the Aperol adds a strong orange flavor to the drink.
A brief history-
Much like the Negroni, the Americano has Italian roots that grew while in America.
First served back in the 1860s, the Americano creator is a humble man who worked at Gaspare Campari’s bar, which was located in Milan, Italy. We taught you all about the origins of Campari a while back.
In fact, the cocktail was originally known as the Milano-Torino because the two primary ingredients were originated in Milan and Torino.
Campari actually calls Milan home and Vermouth is also known as “Vermouth di Torino”. Italians are very simple and romantic when it comes to their language,
So, why they renamed the drink Americano?
It is said that the cocktail was given the new name Americano when it gained popularity with American tourists. This happened around the turn of the 20th century before Prohibition.
While this may be true, there is also a theory that the name is just a combination of the Torino-Milano, a classic Italian cocktail made with Campari and Amaro-Cora from Turin, Italy.
Amaro means bitter in Italian so all in all the thrice over changes make sense, it is up to you to decide which you believe. Either way, the drink is unique in that it has a twist on a riff, and for a modified recipe to mark history in such a way- is a feat to be celebrated.
The Americano became famous when 007, AKA Mr. James Bond got bored of martinis.
The drink became famous as the first cocktail that was ordered in 007 Casino Royale with Daniel Craig.
The Americano is a unique cocktail that is worth trying simply for its interesting history and popularity. Although it is definitely an acquired taste with the bittersweet combination, it is unlike any other drink. The next time you go out, order an Americano. Who knows? It could become your new go-to cocktail.
Thanks for reading, and as always...