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Americano Cocktail | The Classic Italian Cocktail with a Nod to America

The sophisticated Americano cocktail is a lazy mixologist’s dream come true. Learn how to craft the classic Italian cocktail in five minutes or less.

Americano Cocktail on Ledge

We hesitated to craft an Americano at home thinking that is was simply a lesser version of the Negroni. After all, an Americano is basically a Negroni without gin. As it turns out, we were right about the Americano cocktail recipe but wrong with our expectations.

We quickly realized that an Americano is delightfully easy to drink even though it has fewer calories and less alcohol compared to a Negroni. Equally rich in color and featuring two Italian liquors, both Campari cocktails taste like Italy in a glass. However, without the gin, sweet and bitter liquors cohesively mingle in the glass before dancing in the mouth.

In other words, the Americano is an ideal summer sipper that’s sophisticated enough to drink all year long.

What Is an Americano Cocktail?

Americano Cocktail in front of Green Tiles
The Americano is easy to craft and drink. We crafted this tasty cocktail at home in just five minutes.

Ordering an Americano in Italy can go two different ways.

If you’re lucky, you could soon be sipping a Caffè Americano made with espresso and hot water. If you’re luckier, you’ll get an Americano drink crafted with Campari and sweet vermouth instead.

We already spilled the beans when we described the Americano as a Negroni without gin. But we didn’t tell the full story of the drink which has inspired a myriad of aperitivos…

History of the Americano

Americano Cocktail in Lisbon
We channeled Italian history when we drank this Americano cocktail at our home in Portugal.

You’re surely familiar with the Americano cocktail if you’re a movie buff or an Ian Fleming fan. It’s the very first drink that James Bond drinks in Casino Royale and it also appears in From Russia with Love and A View to a Kill. But did you know that the Americano cocktail history predates Fleming’s series by almost a century?

According to cocktail lore, the Americano was born in the 1860s when Gaspare Campari (yes, that Campari) added soda water to a Milano-Torino cocktail at his bar in Milan. The Milano-Torino has just two ingredients – herbaceous Campari from Milan and sweet Punt e Mes vermouth from Turin.

Americano Cocktail Next to Brown Tiles
We recommend drinking Caffè Americanos in the morning and Americano cocktails in the afternoon and evening.

The soda water version eventually donned the name Americano when it became popular with American ex-pats and travelers in Italy. Although mixologists later added gin to create the Negroni in the 20th century, the Campari Americano lives on in both its Italian homeland and around the world.

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Americano Ingredients

Americano Cocktail Mise en Place
Crafting an Americano cocktail only requires four ingredients. Pictured here are sweet vermouth, Campari, sparkling water and an orange.

You don’t need a million ingredients to craft an Americano at home. If you’re like us, you likely have the necessary ingredients lurking in your kitchen and bar:

  • Campari
  • Sweet Red Vermouth
  • Club Soda or Seltzer
  • Orange Twist
Bottles of Red Vermouth and Campari
We used Campari and Martini & Rossi sweet red vermouth to craft our Americano cocktail. Although both brands are based in Italy, they’re readily available at most liquor stores around the world.

Campari is a complex liqueur that derives its herbaceous tones from 50+ secret ingredients that include bitter herbs, aromatic plants and fruit. Not only is it a key ingredient in Italian cocktails, but it’s also great for making simple summer spritzes with soda or sparkling wine.

While you probably have Campari in your home bar, you’re even more likely to have a bottle of sweet red vermouth. Similar to Campari, this Italian liquor has a secret recipe and is highly versatile. We use it to craft Boulevardier, Manhattan and Negroni cocktails.

How To Make an Americano Cocktail

Crafted Americano Cocktail with Jigger
Crafting an Americano is so easy that you’ll want to drink this cocktail at home again and again.

The Americano is one of the easiest classic cocktails to craft and requires absolutely no special bar tools. We use a jigger, bar spoon, peeler and paring knife in our recipe but you can be creative if you don’t have these tools on hand.

Click here to discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.

Peeling an Orange
We always peel extra strips from our orange so that we have back-up twists in case one breaks.

The first step is to peel a strip of peel from an orange and create an orange twist. We like to trim our strip with a paring knife to get smooth edges.

Pro Tip
Twirl your orange peel strip around a chopstick to achieve a curly twist.

Measuring Sweet Vermouth
Measuring the two liquors is literally the most difficult step in our Americano cocktail recipe.

The next step is to measure the two liquors. We use a jigger to ensure precise measurements.

Pouring Campari
We pour the liquor directly into the glass. Not only does this approach make sense, but it also minimizes post-drinking cleanup.

You’ll want to pour each liquor into a lowball glass immediately after you measure it. There is no need to use a mixing glass or shaker for this recipe – an ideal situation for lazy mixologists who would rather drink from glasses than wash them.

Click here to buy a pair of Riedel old fashioned glasses on Amazon.

Mixing Americano Cocktail
Unlike other drinks imbibed by James Bond, the classic Americano is stirred and not shaken.

Once you pour the two liquors, you’ll want to add ice to the glass and gently stir. We used five medium ice cubes in our drink but one jumbo ice cube would work well too.

Pouring Soda Water into an Americano Cocktail
While we top our Americanos with Perrier, you can use your preferred club soda or sparkling water.

Next, top the glass with either club soda or sparkling water. You can add as much or as little as you like. Adding more soda will create a less potent potable.

We use Perrier to craft our cocktails for two reasons. First, Perrier is our preferred sparkling water and it’s what we typically drink at home. Second, club soda isn’t readily available in Lisbon where we live.

Fun Fact
We’re not alone with our preference for Perrier. James Bond drank his Americano cocktails with Perrier too!

Expressing Americano Cocktail with Orange Peel
Madonna expressed herself in a song. We express ourselves with orange peels and cocktails.

The final step is to add an orange peel twist. Before dropping the twist into the glass, rub the orange peel around the glass rim. Expressing the orange peel like this releases pleasing orange scents and flavors into your Americano.

Americano Alternatives

Americano Cocktail from Above
The Americano isn’t just a classic cocktail. It’s also a launching pad for several other cocktails.

Mastering our Americano recipe will only take you one try. This is not a cocktail with a learning curve! It’s super easy to craft even for the laziest of mixologists.

If you’re not so lazy and feel like experimenting, each of the following alternatives adds one ingredient to the Americano to create an entirely different drink:

  • Add bourbon to craft a Boulevardier cocktail.
  • Add gin to craft a Negroni cocktail.
  • Add jägermeister to craft a Count Mast Negroni cocktail.
  • Add rye to craft an Old Pal cocktail.
  • Add sparkling wine to craft a Negroni Sbagliato cocktail.

Americano Cocktail Recipe

Americano Cocktail and Orange
It’s time to craft an Americano. Saluti!
Americano Cocktail Next to Blue Tiles

Americano Cocktail

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Deceptively sophisticated, the Americano is incredibly easy to craft at home with just a few ingredients and a spoon.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. Campari (1 jigger)
  • 1.5 oz. sweet red vermouth (1 jigger)
  • club soda or sparkling water
  • orange peel, sliced into a narrow strip
  • ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Pour Campari and sweet red vermouth into a glass.
  2. Add ice and gently stir.
  3. Top off with club soda or sparkling water.
  4. Express the orange peel by twisting it over the glass and rubbing it along the rim. Then drop it into the glass as garnish.

Notes

  • Serve the Americano in a low ball or rocks glass.
  • As an option, shake the Americano and serve in a coupe or martini glass.
  • Use a 1:1 ratio if you modify the serving size.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 196Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g

Nutrition Disclosure: We used an online calculator to calculate this information. Though 2foodtrippers.com has attempted to secure accurate data, these nutritional figures are estimates.

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About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

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