Recipe: Americano (serves one)

  • 1 1/2 oz. Campari
  • 1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 3 oz. club soda
  • lemon slice

Stir the Campari and vermouth in a shaker with ice. Strain into ice-filled cocktail glass. Add club soda and stir gently. Garnish with lemon slice.

We just got back from a trip to Spain, where we saw the Americano on a lot of menus as a before-dinner drink. This combination of bitter Campari and sweet vermouth dates back to Italy in the 1860’s; apparently it’s the precursor of the famous Negroni Cocktail. It was nice to have the Americano as a refreshing, low-alcohol option on our trip — we tended to have wine with dinner, so we didn’t want to overdo it on the cocktail front.

One of us opted for an Americano at Boadas, a bar in Barcelona that’s been serving cocktails since 1933. The bartender opened a small bottle of soda water just for that drink, and gave us the rest of the bottle to top it off. This turned out to be the common practice in Spain — we never saw anyone spraying soda from a bar gun there. The other cocktail we got at Boadas was a Negroni, which was mixed in the bar’s signature style by repeatedly “throwing” the drink from one shaker cup to another.

Dinner in Spain doesn’t start until around 9pm (we had an 8 pm reservation at a restaurant and were the only ones there for close to an hour), so before dinner drinks run quite late. Besides the Americano, another typical drink is straight vermouth served over ice with an orange wedge. One more tip: if you order an Americano, make sure to specify that you mean the cocktail; otherwise you may end up with a coffee.

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