Americano, A Perfect Apéritif Cocktail Recipe

Before there was a "martini, shaken, not stirred," there was the Americano cocktail. It's not hard to see why James Bond (and countless others) fell in love with this bittersweet, effervescent concoction. 

The Americano, a name better associated with coffee than with cocktails, was actually the very first drink that Ian Fleming's famous spy, James Bond, ordered in the novel "Casino Royale." The drink then appeared many times in subsequent books. However, the Americano actually originated in 1860s Milan, where American tourists took a liking to what was essentially the lightened-up version of the Milano-Torino cocktail (made with Campari and sweet vermouth in equal proportions).

According to food blogger and recipe developer Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table, this drink has the unique distinction of being both incredibly simple to make and tasting complex on the tongue. Traditionally, the Americano features a 1-to-1 ratio of Campari and sweet vermouth, topped with soda water and an orange slice. Prints takes it to another level of flavor by adding a few drops of orange bitters, enhancing the aromatic profile of each sip. Make yourself an Americano before dinner, and feel like the world's coolest spy with each bitter sip.

Gather the ingredients to make an Americano cocktail

To prepare the ingredients for this Americano cocktail, gather the following elements: Campari for a bitter kick, sweet vermouth to balance the flavors, chilled soda water to add effervescence, orange bitters for that special something, and an orange twist or slice to impart a hint of citrus.

Fill glass with ice

Fill a tall glass with ice. Not only will this make the Americano look complete, but it will also chill the cocktail ingredients, keeping the flavors balanced and enhancing the overall drinking experience.

Add Campari and sweet vermouth

Next, add equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth to the ice-filled glass, and give it a gentle stir. This simple combination brings together the bold bitterness of Campari with the rich sweetness of vermouth, resulting in a balanced and flavorful drink. Equal proportions ensure that neither ingredient dominates, allowing the distinct flavors to harmonize.

Top with soda water

To complete the basic Americano cocktail, add enough soda to top the glass. This step adds volume, as well as refreshing bubbles that lighten the drink and create a delightfully subtle fizz. It was precisely this touch that made the drink a favorite among American tourists in Italy, thus earning the cocktail its name.

Add bitters

To enhance the flavor of the traditional Americano, we suggest adding 2-3 drops of orange cocktail bitters; not much is needed to boost this drink's flavor to another level.

Serve the Americano cocktail with an orange twist

To complete the presentation of the Americano cocktail, top things off with an orange twist. This is easier than it sounds: Start by peeling a few long ribbons of zest from an orange. Then, take one of the ribbons and wrap it tightly around a straw, holding it for about a minute. This technique helps the peel retain its twisted shape, resulting in an elegant and fragrant garnish for your drink. If you're in a hurry or don't want to fuss around with a twist, though, you can simply use an orange slice. Despite being very simple to make, this classic cocktail truly packs a punch of flavor!

Americano, A Perfect Apéritif Cocktail Recipe
5 from 38 ratings
When you're in the mood for a bittersweet cocktail that's a little lighter than a negroni, opt for this Italian Americano recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Americano cocktail with an orange slice
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 1½ ounces Campari
  • 1½ ounces sweet vermouth
  • Soda water, chilled, as needed
  • 2–3 drops orange bitters
  • Orange twist or slice, for garnish
  1. Fill a tall glass with ice.
  2. Add Campari and sweet vermouth, and gently stir.
  3. Pour in enough soda water to fill the glass.
  4. Add orange bitters.
  5. Garnish the glass with the orange twist or slice, and serve immediately.
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