Recipes: The Americano Cocktail, a Lighter Negroni Alternative, Is All-Italian | Wine Enthusiast
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Americano cocktail

The Americano Cocktail, a Lighter Negroni Alternative, Is All-Italian

For most, the name Americano evokes images of coffee shop baristas topping foamy shots of espresso with water. This cocktail recipe, however, is quite different. The Americano is an Italian drink that balances bitter and sweet flavors with a minimum of ingredients. The bright, slightly effervescent cocktail is known as a lighter version of a Negroni, with the bitter bubbliness of an Aperol spritz. This cold and refreshing drink can (and should) fill your glass all summer long. Read on for everything you need to know about how to make an Americano.

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What Is an Americano Cocktail?

The Americano cocktail is a mixture of sweet vermouth, a bitter aperitivo or digestivo and sparkling water. It is typically served in a rocks glass filled with ice, creating a citrusy, slightly sweet beverage.

When Was the Americano Invented?

Despite its name, the drink’s most likely beginnings can be traced to Italy, according to The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails. Americans there in the 1800s were known for adding bitters to vermouth. By the 1860s, Italians were producing a pre-bittered vermouth called an Americano, which comes from the Italian word for “American-style.” But the general consensus, then and now, is that a homemade version is preferred.

By the 1880s, this combination became increasingly popular with ice and soda. Campari became the bitter of choice in the 1930s. This is likely influenced by Campari’s popularity in another Italian cocktail, the Milano Torino.

The Americano was later overshadowed by the Negroni, which uses gin instead of sparkling water. It also has similarities to the Aperol spritz, which leans on another popular Italian bitter, Aperol. Of course, the Americano remains an excellent drink—especially for those with few ingredients in their bar cart.

Americano Cocktail Recipe

Recipe Courtesy of Jacy Topps


  • 1 ½ ounces Italian bitter liqueur (preferably Campari)
  • 1 ½ ounces sweet vermouth
  • Soda water, to top
  • Orange twist, for garnish


Add Campari and sweet vermouth to a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with the soda water and stir gently to combine. Garnish with an orange twist. 


Is the Americano Cocktail from Italy?

Yes! The Americano cocktail was inspired by American drinkers, but was first created in Italy.

What Does an Americano Cocktail Taste Like?

The cocktail is slightly sweet and bitter, with refreshing citrus notes.

What’s the Difference Between an Americano and a Negroni?

A Negroni tends to be much higher in alcohol compared to an Americano, thanks to the gin, which lends a slightly floral flavor and stronger buzz. Meanwhile, an Americano opts instead for sparkling water, making it an ideal choice for a hot summer day.

What Is Campari?

Campari is a brand of Italian bitter liqueur. Nobody knows exactly what the recipe is, but the flavor tends to lean bitter and citrusy, like an orange peel.

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