Can you tell I’ve been feeling nostalgic for Italy lately? Riding a vespa, hanging out with friends in the piazza, espresso after every meal. It’s hard to believe I was an extern in Colle almost three years ago now. I’m always a little nostalgic for it I guess. Heck, a third of this recipe blog is reminiscing about random travel adventures. I’ve always wondered if Italians dream about going to America like we do about Italy. They probably dream about vacationing in Paris or Sydney or something.
So this cocktail. It’s bittersweet. Bitter because of the Campari and sweet because of the orange juice. You’ll find Campari in pretty much every Italian bar next to a bottle of Aperol. I love the colors of both, Aperol in its florescent orange and Campari like a shiny ruby. If you think Campari’s too bitter, you might try Aperol. They taste similar, but Aperol’s a little milder with a lesser alcohol content and more sugar.
Apparently, a Campari cocktail was the first drink James Bond ever ordered before switching to his more well-known shaken, not stirred martini. At least that’s what our instructor told us in bartending school. You might want to fact check that one.
If you’re looking for more uses for that tall bottle of Campari, there’s a popular drink in Florence called a Negroni made with Campari, red vermouth, and gin. And an Americano is more than diluted espresso. It’s also a cocktail with Campari, red vermouth, and soda water. Do you notice the trend there? You order an Americano at a coffee shop and they hand you watered down espresso, and you order an Americano in a bar and it’s a watered down Negroni without the gin. Meanwhile there’s some Italian guy drinking the full strength stuff next to you. And you can’t feel insulted or anything because they’re named Americanos after all the Americans (like myself) who order them that way. All I’m saying is we come across a little weak, right?
2 oz campari
2 oz vodka
8 oz fresh squeezed orange juice (2 naval oranges)
pellegrino (1-2 oz)
1. Make your garnish first. Wash the orange. Using a paring knife or peeler, cut away the skin by rotating the orange carefully in your hand. Try not to get the pith, or the bitter white part. Remember the drink’s bitter already. Trim the peel and curl.
2. Juice the oranges. Promise you’ll use fresh squeezed! It’s so much better.
3. Fill two glasses with ice.
4. Pour in the Campari, vodka, and oj.
5. Top each with a splash of Pellegrino.
6. Garnish with an orange twist.
7. As you drink, imagine you’re having a picnic under an olive tree and around you are rolling Tuscan hills full of grape vines. There’s an old stone tower to your left, and in the distance I’m cruising by on an orange vespa… Or dream you’re sipping the cocktail in a bar overlooking a peaceful canal in Venice and then I ride by in a gondola. I’m sorry. I want to be in your Italian daydream, too. Hey, anyway I get to be in Italy, right?