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Friday, July 23, 2010

Is bitter better? Give the Americano a spin

The Americano is more of an aperitivo than a cocktail.  Invented 150 years ago in Milano by Gaspare Campari, developer of the liqueur that bears his name, this refreshing aperitivo was so popular with American tourists back in the day that its name was soon changed to the Americano.  One wonders if Mark Twain enjoyed one (or more) on the voyage that later became Innocents Abroad.  Campari® is a bitter liqueur and has been described as an acquired taste, but if you enjoy dry cocktails you will discover that the taste is not at all that hard to acquire.  The Americano is the father of the Negroni, a cocktail that we’ll cover in a future post. 

Campari (CS# 064636) is in general distribution in Utah, but if your local State Liquor Store is small, you might want to make sure they have it in stock before you make a special trip.  Americanos are usually served on the rocks because of the strong, bitter taste of the Campari.  The sweet Vermouth balances the bitterness resulting in a very agreeable before dinner apéritif.  If you are interested in trying a sweet Vermouth a little better than the ubiquitous Martini & Rossi® Rosso, you should try the Quady Vya (CS# 910764), but it is in limited distribution so be sure to call ahead.


1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2-4 oz Club Soda (optional)

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes, add the Campari and Vermouth, and stir lightly. Add (the optional) club soda to taste.  Garnish with a twist of lemon (standard) or an orange slice.

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