The Italiano

The Italiano Cocktail with Afternoon in the Piazza - original watercolor by the Cocktail Artist
This started out with the classic Italian cocktail - the Negroni, but just like with Italian cooking we began substituting a bit of this and a bit of that until it became something quite distinct. The Negroni cocktail has been around for about a century. The standard story of it's creation is that Count Camillo Negroni instructed the bartender at Caffe Giacosa in Florence to make a stronger version of the Americano (by replacing the soda water with gin). A classic Negroni consists of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. As with so many things which involve cocktails, there is some controversy surrounding the history of the Negroni, so if you want to read more, you can find a good piece at Drinking Cup.

For this cocktail we did use gin and sweet vermouth, but the dark amber color of our Italiano is the result of the addition of balsamic vinegar. With the popularity of shrubs right now (which are fruit, sugar, and vinegar concoctions) we figured why not try adding the vinegar directly to a cocktail. We used a very good balsamic vinegar - not the kind you find in the grocery store. This is the true balsamic vinegar that you get in an Italian specialty store. It's dark, syrupy, and slightly sweet. The intensity of true balsamic vinegar means that a little goes a long way. We also added a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice and used Aperol (Campari's less bitter cousin).

To keep things Italian, we garnished the cocktail with a sprig of fresh oregano and have paired it with a few paintings that the Cocktail Artist has done on trips to Umbria and Tuscany. Bitter cocktails can be an acquired taste, but we think this cocktail has a good balance and will make a nice aperitif to your next Italian meal.

cin cin!

The Italiano

1 1/2 ounces Gin
1 ounce Aperol
3/4 ounce Sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
1 scant teaspoon Italian balsamic vinegar
splash of club soda

Add gin, Aperol, vermouth, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar to a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake for 15 - 20 seconds. Strain into an old fashioned glass (or goblet) with several ice cubes. Add a splash of club soda and garnish with fresh oregano.

The Cocktail Artist at work in Tuscany

Tuscan Villa - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist

Afternoon in the Piazza - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist

Villa Window - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist

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