The Americano cocktail is a delightful blend of Campari and sweet vermouth poured over ice and topped with soda, creating a refreshing and bittersweet flavour profile. Originating in the 1860s, it is credited to Gaspare Campari, who crafted it as a lighter version of the "Milano-Torino" cocktail, eventually becoming a favourite among American tourists visiting Italy.
Campari serves as a crucial element in numerous timeless cocktails like the Negroni and the Garibaldi. This bittersweet liqueur harmonises effectively with various spirits and offers a delightful standalone experience. The Americano, a simple Campari cocktail, is a light and invigorating choice, ideal for warm summer days.
Crafting the Americano is an uncomplicated process, involving equal portions of Campari and sweet vermouth poured over ice and finished with soda. This results in a refreshingly vibrant Campari cocktail, with its distinctive bittersweet taste offering a delightful experience. While the Americano is a refreshing choice, its Campari-centric flavour, marked by bitterness, may not appeal to everyone's palate.
The origins of the Americano are rooted in the 19th century and attributed to Gaspare Campari, the creator of the eponymous liqueur. In the 1860s, he crafted this cocktail at his Milan bar as a lighter rendition of the "Milano-Torino" drink, enhancing it with sparkling mineral water. The original cocktail was named for the birthplaces of its key ingredients, with Campari hailing from Milan and sweet vermouth from Turin in Italy.
The nomenclature of the "Americano" has at least two contrasting tales. English language sources suggest that the drink gained its name due to its popularity among American expatriates in Europe during the early 20th century. On the other hand, many Italian language sources propose an alternative narrative, associating the name with the acclaim of the Italian-born, US-based boxer and wrestler Primo Carnera. According to this version, the cocktail was christened the "Americano" when Carnera clinched the title of World Heavyweight Champion in 1933 at New York's Madison Square Garden, with some sources suggesting that the name might have been created on that auspicious occasion.
The Americano played a pivotal role in the birth of the renowned Negroni cocktail. As the legend goes, in 1918, Count Camillo Negroni, seeking a stronger blend after his return from North America, instructed Fosco Scarselli, the bartender at Bar Casoni in Milan, to transform his Americano by omitting the soda and strengthening it with gin. This marked the moment when the Americano evolved into the Negroni.
The Americano held a special place in Ian Fleming's works, notably as the inaugural cocktail ordered by James Bond in Casino Royale, Fleming's debut 007 spy novel. Despite this, the Vesper martini, or more precisely, the way it was ordered, took precedence over the Americano in both the literary and cinematic realms of Bond's adventures.
The Americano has its moments in the Bond series. In the short story A View to a Kill, Fleming elucidates Bond's choice of the Americano in specific settings. Bond believes that French cafes aren't conducive to serious drinking, and on sunny sidewalks, gin, whiskey, and vodka are out of place. It's in these circumstances that "Bond always had the same thing—an Americano."
In Patricia Highsmith's 1956 suspenseful novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom and Dickie are depicted relishing the Americano cocktail while situated on the via Veneto. This occurrence marks the beginning of a friendship that takes a less-than-ideal turn.
Pour the Campari and vermouth into an old-fashioned/highball glass filled with ice cubes.
Top with the soda.
Garnish with a lemon or orange slice or twist.