The Americano is a gentle introduction to the unique and bitter taste of Campari. It is a fascinating drink with a long and rich history, and it was the first cocktail mentioned in the James Bond novels. This is an iconic and delightful aperitif that you can enjoy before any meal.
The cocktail recipe itself is extremely simple: Equal parts of Campari and sweet vermouth are poured over ice and topped with soda. It's about as refreshing as a Campari cocktail can get, and the bittersweet taste will delight your palate. That is not to say that the Americano is for everyone. The flavor profile is decidedly Campari, which is bitter and not in line with the inherent tastes of many Americans. Yet, if you can give it a chance and train your palate to enjoy Campari, the Americano will soon become a favorite.
Gather the ingredients.
Pour the Campari and vermouth into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.
Top with the soda.
Garnish with a lemon twist or orange slice.
Serve and enjoy.
- Pour a quality clear soda water without sweeteners or extra flavors. Club soda is the most popular option, though seltzer and mineral water make fine Americanos as well.
- Ensure your sweet vermouth is fresh. The fortified wine does not have the long shelf life of distilled spirits and will go stale just three months after the bottle is opened.
- Switch to a highball glass and add more soda for a tall thirst quencher.
When Was the Americano Invented?
A classic cocktail, the Americano was first served in the 1860s at Gaspare Campari's bar in Milan, Italy. It was originally named "Milano-Torino" because of the origins of its two primary ingredients: Campari calls Milan home and the sweet vermouth was made in the style of Torino, Italy. The cocktail was later renamed because of its popularity among American tourists around the turn of the 20th century and prior to Prohibition.
What's the Difference Between the Americano and Negroni?
Campari is best-known for two famous cocktails: the Americano and Negroni. Both drinks use equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth, but the Negroni does not include soda, opting for an equal measure of gin instead. The Americano actually spurred the creation of the Negroni in the 1920s. It's said that Count Camillo Negroni ordered "an Americano with gin" while at a cafe in Florence, Italy. It's unclear if that story is true, however.
James Bond and the Americano
It seems that Ian Fleming also had a fascination with the Americano. This is the first cocktail ordered by James Bond in "Casino Royale," Fleming's first 007 spy novel. However, the Vesper martini (or the manner in which it was ordered) overshadowed the Americano in the books and movies.
The Americano did make a few appearances in the series. In the short story, "A View to a Kill," Fleming explains where Bond thinks it appropriate to enjoy an Americano. He writes that "One cannot seriously drink in French cafes" and that gin, whiskey, and vodka have no place on sunny sidewalks. In this venue, "Bond always had the same thing—an Americano."
How Strong Is the Americano?
You can, of course, top the Americano with as much soda water as you like, and this will affect the strength of the cocktail. As an estimate, if the total volume is around 5 ounces, this Campari cocktail weighs in at a gentle 9 percent ABV (18 proof).
Regan, G. The Negroni, Drinking to la Dolce Vita, with Recipes and Lore. 2015.