Recipe: Cappellettini (serves one)

  • 1 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (we used Noilly Prat Extra Dry)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Cappelletti aperitif
  • lemon twist

Combine vermouth and Cappelletti in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist.

This low-alcohol cocktail is super easy to make. It’s similar to the Americano, but doesn’t even require opening a bottle of soda water. Using dry rather than sweet vermouth keeps it light and refreshing. We’re not sure if an official version of this cocktail exists, so we named it the Cappellettini.

The two ingredients are both aromatized wines. Cappelletti is similar to Campari, but wine-based and lower in alcohol (17% compared to 24%). And it’s still made with natural carmine color derived from cochineal insects!

There’s a line on the Cappelletti label describing it as “americano rosso”. What’s up with the reference to America there? Turns out that in the 19th century, Americans were known for mixing bitters and sugar into a spirit or fortified wine — that is, making a cocktail, in the original sense of the word. David Wondrich writes in The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails that this practice became “a symbol of the strange things Americans did with drinks”. So the bitterness and sweetness of Cappelletti make it an “American-style” aperitif.

Whatever the terminology, we hope you enjoy the Cappellettini!

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