Did you know that before James Bond famously ordered his shaken-not-stirred martini or his negroni that the British secret agent was sipping on a Classic Americano? That inaugural drink order was in “Casino Royale,” when Ian Fleming introduced the world to Bond, arguably one of the first spirits influencers who went on to shape cocktail culture.
Appealing to both spritz fans and negroni enthusiasts, the Classic Americano is made with equal parts Campari and vermouth, with a generous splash of soda. It’s a diplomatic introduction to the world of bitter cocktails, and, with a twist of citrus, it’s the perfect end-of-summer sip.
Cocktail expert Kyle Bobkowski—the beverage manager at Crossroads Hotel, a hip, high-design hotel in downtown Kansas City, Missouri that’s home to Lazia, an Italian restaurant—explains that both the Americano Spritz and the Italian one hold their origins in Italy.
“German and Austrian visitors to Italy would add a ‘spritz’ (Germain for ‘splash’) to the Italian wines to more easily enjoy them,” Bobkowski says. “And the Americano is the spritz predecessor of the Negroni when Count Camillo Negroni would request an Americano Cocktail with Gin, substituting the club soda for gin.”
Both renditions of the spritz are lighter cocktails with lower ABVs, so you can enjoy several on a patio or by the water, he says.
Here’s how to make a Classic Americano, according to the team at Lazia.
- 1 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth
- 1 oz Campari
- Club soda
- Orange twist
- Pour Campari and vermouth over ice in a Collins glass
- Top with club soda
- Express an orange twist
What Glassware Should You Use for a Classic Americano?
“A Collins glass is our preferred style for an Americano, though a wine glass works great too,” Bobkowski says.
Lazia, the hotel’s on-site Italian restaurant, has specifically made Collins ice cubes that are 1″x1″x4″ that fit perfectly in the glass and they help keep the cocktail perfectly chilled.
What’s the Best Vermouth to Use in a Classic Americano?
Bobkowski says Antica has always been one of his favorite vermouths, either chilled, over ice, or in a cocktail.
“It has a burst of flavor and a fuller mouthfeel than other vermouths and there’s nothing quite like it,” he says. “It brings a rich sweetness and texture that is so hard to replicate with other syrups, spices, or fortified wines.”
What Bitter Liqueur Should You Use in a Spritz?
“In the world of Aperitivos and Amari, Campari is amazing,” Bobkowski says.
A touch of Campari can add a new layer to so many drinks and cocktails, he says. In the team’s Classic Americano recipe, the bitter citrus peel flavors and aromas balance the richness of Carpano Antica.
What Club Soda Should You Use in a Spritz?
Fever Tree Club Soda is a go-to at Lazia.
“The size and longevity of the bubbles is unmatched and we don’t use anything else. Fever Tree can be stored at room temperature, but be sure to chill it plenty before adding it to a cocktail or drinking it from the bottle,” he says.
A general rule, Bobkowski says: Bubbles always make a great spritz. Using fresh and cold club soda every time gives the best results.
How Do You Make an Orange Twist and Express It?
The goal is to get a 3-4″ peel with minimal pith, which is that inner white part of the fruit below the outer layer, Bobkowski says.
You can use either a sharp paring knife or a sharp peeler, dull versions will tear the fruit and won’t produce a good peel, he suggests.
Starting at one of the “poles” of an orange, push the knife or peeler towards the other “pole,” applying constant and steady pressure. Once the peel is complete, you can manicure the edges with a knife for a little extra fanciness, or just express the peel over the drink and add it on the top, Bobkowski says.
What’s the Best Type of Ice to Use for a Spritz?
The bigger and clearer the ice cube, the better, as long as it fits in the glass.
“Bigger cubes melt more slowly, and if ice freezes slowly, there are fewer cracks and air bubbles trapped in the ice, which cause ice to melt faster,” Bobkowski says.
You can accomplish this easily enough with silicone molds inside of a small cooler and placed into a freezer. Though simple ice cubes from a freezer tray work every time, he says.
What’s a Twist on the Spritz Recipe?
In the Lazia Spritz, the bar team uses Lillet Rouge and Luxardo Bitter Bianco. Lillet Rouge differs from some darker vermouths and fortified wines in that it brings lighter notes of fruits like blood orange, grapefruit, and plum, Bobkowski says. Bitter Bianco brings aromas of white rose petals and lemon with flavors of grapefruit and some light winter spice, he says.
“In tandem they bring a soft balance of citrus and spice with all the brightness we want in a warm weather spritz,” Bobkowski says.
- 1 oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
- 1 oz Lillet Rouge
- Club soda
- Lemon twist
- Pour over ice in a Collins glass.
- Top with club soda
- Express a lemon twist.