Friday, June 1, 2012

Americano

As I continue reading through Boozehound by Jason Wilson, a certain simple to make drink stood out to me in Chapter 5: Bitter is Bella. Wilson describes his adventures throughout Milan, Italy and he talks about how he found himself drinking an Americano. That got me to thinking, how would an Americano taste like. Here is the recipe he gives:
Americano
Equal parts of Campari and Sweet Vermouth over ice with a lemon twist
What exactly is Campari. As per William Sertl in his article Campari: Good and Bitter on the Savuer website states:
The Campari story begins in the early 1860s, when a bartender-turned-caffè-proprietor named Gaspare Campari started inventing bottled cocktails in the cellar of his new establishment in Milan. He'd mix neutral alcohol with raspberry juice, vanilla, cocoa—whatever struck his fancy—and then sell his homemade libations upstairs. One day, he came up with something he called "Bitter all'Uso d'Holanda"—bitter [meaning a kind of bitter herbal drink] in the style of Holland—based on his notions about legendary Dutch cordials.

The recipe reportedly has not changed since that time: Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water, and an infusion flavored with oranges, rhubarb, and—I was told when I visited the main Campari bottling plant in Sesto S. Giovanni, a sterile industrial suburb ten miles north of Milan— ginseng, as well as a mixture of herbs.
Why is it called an Americano? According to the Campari cocktail recipe list for download:
The famous Americano was invented in Milan, where it was known as Milano-Torino – a reference to its two main ingredients It was renamed Americano after the American tourists who were fond of the
drink during prohibition.
At first smell the lemon twist stands out. The lemony smell is simply awesome. At first the drink gave off a sweet taste then a slowly lingering bitter taste near the back of the tongue and throat. The lemon twist adds another subtle flavor to the drink. It is a very intense flavor explosion of both the sides of sweet and bitter.

In looking around on the Campari website, I found a different recipe listed for the Americano. Here is that recipe:
Americano
1 part Campari
1 part vermouth Cinzano Rosso
1 part soda

Build in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a slice of orange.
I found that this drink had the sweetness and bitterness a bit ramped up with the addition of soda water. The sweetness and bitterness hit the same stops the first drink did, it just seemed stronger. But there was something strange. As with the first drink sometimes I'd only taste the sweetness. Then on another sip I'd taste the sweetness and bitterness. Another time just the bitterness. There was no pattern to how the flavor would come about.

As described on the Campari website:
Americano: A cocktail you'll love at first sip. In fact they say that once you've tried it you'll never get tired of its special texture and striking mixture of flavors.
Yes, I would say this is an apt description of the Americano. Did I love it at first sip? No, not really but the drink started to grow on me by the time I finished the second one. I can see myself ordering one out of curiosity to see how the flavors would come to the surface of my tongue. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to try something new with different flavors and sensations.

Until Then Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla