What most people might think of when they hear of an Americano, is Caffé Americano, or espresso mixed with hot water.
The coffee drink was named after the American soldiers in WW2 who were looking for something more like the filter coffee from back home after liberating Italy from the fascists.
What we’re talking about today is a little more intense, the Americano cocktail.
The ingredient list for the Americano cocktail is short, as it should be for a classic. Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water. Some say the original version didn’t include the soda water, but at that point it’s a much heavier drink and there’s a reason why the version that lasted the test of time includes it.
The version we’re talking about today has that trademark bittersweet Campari flavor married with the herbal smoothness of the vermouth, and a bit of brightness from the soda water.
It’s not for the faint of heart who prefer sugar-bomb cocktails, but if your palate skews towards bitter flavors it will likely become a fixture in your bar order.
When the drink was invented at Gaspare Campari’s bar, Caffe Campari, in the 1860’s it was known as the Milano-Torino. This is because the key ingredients. Gaspare’s eponymous Campari was from Milan, and the vermouth, Punt e Mes, was from Torino.
The name is believed to have changed during a period in the late 1920s and 1930s, when tourists from America started arriving and drinking up loads of the cocktails while travelling through Italy. The name stuck and it is now what the drink is known as around the world.
In Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s world-famous character James Bond orders this cocktail, and expresses his belief that it’s the best choice to have in a café. He drank his with Perrier soda water, but you can use whatever you have got on hand.
Carpano Antica is a favorite for this cocktail, but if you don’t want to splurge you can go with Martini & Rossi and your drink will come out just fine. Just make sure you select sweet vermouth and not dry vermouth. You need a bit of the sweetness to balance the bitterness of the Campari.
An alternative? Try Aperol Spritz, the Italian aperitif par excellence!