The Americano: James Bond’s Original Cocktail of Choice M ost people are familiar with the coffee style of Americano. That shouldn’t be c...
The Americano: James Bond’s Original Cocktail of Choice
Most people are familiar with the coffee style of Americano. That shouldn’t be confused with the Americano cocktail though. Not that there’s anything wrong with the coffee, however in certain settings, it’s helpful to make clear which one you’re asking for lest you be brought a coffee when you’re in need of an alcoholic beverage, or vice versa.
The Americano cocktail is comprised of Campari, a bit of an oddly-tasting spirit from Italy with a bitter taste, and sweet vermouth. Soda completes the concoction, making it a light aperitif to enjoy before dining. This classic cocktail first debuted in the 1860s. It was created at Gaspare Campari’s bar located in Milan. The original name was Milano-Torino which comes from the ingredients used to create it. Milan is where Campari comes from and sweet vermouth in Milan is called Vermouth di Torino.
Not at all a mysterious beverage, however it was highly notable because of its appeal with American tourists at the beginning of the 20th century, before that boring Prohibition kicked in. It was around this time that it earned the name Americano, which has stuck with it ever since.
The cocktail was later renamed because of its popularity among American tourists around the turn of the 20th century and prior to Prohibition. What made it even more popular though was that in the book Casino Royale written by Ian Fleming, the notorious spy James Bond ordered the Americano. Only true Bond fans will recall that this was the first drink the spy ordered since his iconic ordering of the Vesper Martini in following books and movies certainly clouds the memory of most.
The Americano is also credited with spawning the Negroni, another popular cocktail that came about in the 1920s. It was thanks to the Count Camillo Negroni who asked for an Americano with gin in it while in Florence. Amazing how adding just one ingredient can create a cult following of its own.
In any event, if you want to make an Americano cocktail, you’ll need to combine 1 1/2 ounces of Campari and 1 1/2 ounces of sweet vermouth into an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Add soda water or club soda to fill the glass and garnish with a twist of lemon or an orange slice. It’s light and refreshing for hot days, and makes it a little easier to get acquainted with bitter Campari. However, if you’re looking for something to really take the edge off, you might want to go with a stronger cocktail. The Americano isn’t high in alcohol content, but that’s a good thing if you want to have a drink at an outing and appear social without getting sloshed.
Have you had an American cocktail before? What did you think?