You might have seen it on cocktail menus, or seen it on liquor store shelves — Cocchi Americano is a bartender obsession. But what is it, and what does it taste like?
Cocchi (pronounced COKE-ee) is an Italian aperitif wine, which makes it similar to the French Lillet. Made from Moscato di Asti, it’s gently flavored with herbs and spices (including gentian, orange peel, elderberry, and more). The result is a nice balance of dry and sweet, and delicious to sip on its own before dinner over ice. But it’s incredible in cocktails too, and, at just 16.5% alcohol, a much lighter alternative to spirits. Here are three of our favorite ways to use Cocchi Americano.
Easy: Cocchi & Soda
We’ll drink Cocchi Americano and soda water all spring long, but why not dress it up a little? Muddling just a few red grapes in the bottom adds a little sweet-tart flavor to the drink and matches perfectly with the wine-based Cocchi. And it’s so low-alcohol you can have three before dinner.
Instructions: In a tall glass, gently crush 7 or 8 red grapes. Add ice, 1 /2 ounces of Cocchi, 4 ounces of club soda, and pour back and forth between another glass to combine well. Garnish with a few more grapes.
Intermediate: The Vesper
"Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet," James Bond once instructed a bartender in Casino Royale. While Lillet is still around, some bartenders think Cocchi Americano is actually more similar to the Lillet made in Bond’s day — so it’s perfect in Bond’s favorite Vesper. We’re changing the formula a bit, because just one of those Bond-style drinks is an astounding amount of alcohol for a single cocktail—unless you’re in MI-6, we guess.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 1/2 ounce of vodka, and 1 ounce of Cocchi. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a big lemon peel, twisting it over the surface of the drink to spray its citrus oils.
Advanced: Cocchi Irlandese
It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, but we won’t be slugging back shots of Irish whiskey; we prefer it in cocktails. Its easy-mixing character lends itself well to cocktails, as in this simple, (comparatively) low-proof sour. Jameson Black Barrel is a great choice here.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 ounce Irish whiskey, 1 ounce Cocchi, 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice and 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup. Shake all that up hard, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a few lemon slices.