June 22, 2012
With the Summer Solstice having just passed, we are officially in the picnic days as they call it. And I am officially in summer mode, which makes the Americano the perfect drink to talk about because when the dog days of summer arrive, you will need a simple form of refreshment that can be delivered without having to break out the full barware set.
The Americano is a bittersweet combination of Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda, suffuse with a red-orange hue reminiscent of an old Vespa. Originally called a “Milano-Torino” when it was first served in the 1860s by Gaspare Campari in his aptly named Cafe Campari, it eventually became known as the Americano due to its popularity among Prohibition-fleeing Americans biding their time in Italy.
The Americano enjoyed popularity through the early half of the 20th century, and for good reason. At a time when American work culture permitted lunchtime drinking, the Americano was a perfect fit for those who wanted to tipple a bit without tipping over. It was a summer drink for the Mad Men types who didn’t do so-called summer drinks. It was also one of James Bond’s go-to tipples, appearing in a couple of Ian Fleming’s novels.
1.5 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1.5 oz Campari
2.5 oz Club Soda
Half an orange wheel, garnish
Tools: no shaker or strainer necessary
Glassware: chilled Collins glass
Method: Pour all ingredients into a chilled Collins glass and add garnish.
Initial recipes called for a 2 to 1 ratio of Campari to vermouth, but over the years the amount of Campari was tempered to an even ratio with vermouth, which is what many modern recipes call for.
Over the years the Americano has inspired a number of other cocktails, the most notable being the Negroni. The Negroni was created around the turn of the last century when a certain Florentine aristocrat named Count Negroni ordered an Americano with gin instead of soda. So if you appreciate a Negroni, consider yourself indebted to the Americano.
*This post is part of a series in which Payman takes on the task of making and writing about every cocktail featured in the PDT Cocktail Book, as well as providing an awesome photo of each drink taken by Vanessa Bahmani Photography.
**Got a question? He can be found on twitter @paystyle, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply drop him a comment below.