If you love the bittersweet taste of classic Italian cocktails like the Negroni, you have to try your hand at its simple and decidedly more summery cousin: the Americano. We're digging into the colorful past of this Campari and sweet vermouth-based beverage – and offering a simple recipe to make this one yourself, no mixologist required!
In the kitchen and behind the bar, few cultures can compete with what the Italians bring to the table. With centuries of history, experience, and varied climates throughout the country, Italian grapes make some of the best wine and spirits available, including sweet vermouth.
Italian liqueurs like Campari, sweet vermouth, and Aperol are common bar ingredients in some of our all-time favorite cocktails: the Aperol Spritz, Paper Plane, or a simple Campari-soda.
One example of our favorite Italian cocktails is the Negroni, a gin-vermouth-Campari combo. Still, we enjoy its predecessor, the Americano, even more as a light summer cocktail with a lower alcohol content that won't know your socks straight off your feet.
Try out this Americano cocktail recipe at your next house party – it's sure to impress your friends without being too involved or time-consuming, so that you can stay focused on entertaining!
What Is an Americano Cocktail?
The Americano cocktail name might be a little misleading, as a Campari bar in the northern Italian city of Milan first served the drink in the 1860s.
The Americano gained its name from the American tourists who loved drinks with Campari and made it a popular hit – it simply involved topping the Milano-Torino cocktail with some club soda to cut out some of the most bitter notes.
The Americano cocktail recipe contains two of our favorite ingredients that are incredibly popular in Italian cocktail culture:
- Spicy and sweet vermouth;
- Soda to finish off this fizzy, bitter beverage;
- Ice that makes an excellent aperitif or digestif.
The James Bond Beverage of Choice
Sure, James Bond's most famously ordered drink is the classic martini: Shaken, not stirred.
But the Americano is thefirstcocktail James Bond orders in thevery first book in the series, Casino Royale. And if anyone knows a good, classy cocktail, it's James Bond!
The Americano Vs. The Negroni: Two Bitter Italian Classics
Another arguably more famous Italian cocktail, the Negroni, is thought to be based on a variation of the Americano, with a swapping out of ingredients– the Negroni recipe added gin for a strong, herbal kick in place of the softening club soda.
We bet the inventor must have had a tough day and needed something a little stronger to take the edge off!
Both are delicious, but the Americano is more sessionable than a Negroni, so you can sip a few on a hot summer day without getting too blurry.
The Vermouth of Choice: Rosso
There are three different types of vermouth and plenty of brands within each category:
- Vermouth rosso;
- Vermouth blanco;
- Dry vermouth.
While both rosso and blanco (red and white) vermouth varieties are sweet, you'll want to keep one thing in mind when you choose one for your Americano recipe: stick with sweet, red vermouth rosso.
No matter the type of sweet vermouth you decide to use, make sure it is fresh, as vermouth's shelf life is much shorter than other liquors. It should be refrigerated after opening and used within 1 month for best results – you'll want to toss it after 3 months.
How to Make an Americano Cocktail
- 1 1/2 oz Campari
- 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
- Sparkling soda water, to top
- Fresh orange twist, to garnish
- Fill a highball glass with some ice, then add your measured Campari and sweet vermouth.
- Top the glass with soda water and stir gently to combine.
- Garnish with an orange twist.
- Serve, and enjoy your Americano Campari cocktail!
Final Note: Next Level Cocktail Building
To make the perfect Americano, use:
- 1 part Campari;
- 1 part vermouth;
- 1-2 parts soda.
Don't exceed more than 2 parts soda or you risk watering down the drink too much. In our recipe, 2 parts are equal to 3 oz.
The Americano cocktail's taste is pleasing enough on its own, but you can make the drink look like a total show-stopper with directionally frozen, crystal clear ice spheres. We love this ice ball maker.
Another way to pump this drink up is to take the orange twist and rub it around the outside rim of the highball glass and toss it in right before serving. Rubbing the orange rind releases aromatic citrus oils that you can smell before the drink reaches your lips, so you delight two senses at once!