Americano Cocktail

Three ingredients make for bittersweet magic in this classic, low alcoholic cocktail.

Americano Cocktail

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Oset Babür-Winter

Total Time:
3 mins

The unsung hero of aperitivo hour, the Americano is the low-ABV (alcohol by volume) cousin of the iconic Negroni. Made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water, the Americano is slightly bitter with warming sweetness and refreshing effervescence. Not to be confused with the Caffé Americano or Americano coffee, a drink that elongates espresso with water to mimic an American-style drip coffee, the Americano cocktail is a spritz-y beverage that comes together with just a few ingredients, and is sure to please. 

Whether you are ordering an Americano in between Martinis to slow down on a night out, or sipping one on a sunny mid-afternoon, the Americano is truly a drink made for any occasion. Campari gives this cocktail its bitterness, light citrus flavor, and a delicate aroma of spice. Arguably, Campari is the best-known liqueur in the red bitter category –– hence its iconic flavor and color. “Every aperitivo-maker has their own method and secrets, but the gist is that alcohol — either a neutral grain spirit or wine – is infused with a combination of bitter herbs, plants, and fruits,” writes Amelia Schwartz. For red bitter liqueurs, the desired vibrant color was traditionally achieved by adding cochineal, a red dye produced by an insect. More recently, though, makers have opted for vegetarian-friendly options like beetroot. 

While Campari is the classic red bitter liqueur used in an Americano, other alternatives can give your cocktail a subtle but distinct change in flavor. For example, you can try Select Aperitivo, a Venetian red bitter liqueur whose recipe is over 100 years old, for a more herbal take on the category. “The liqueur is blended and macerated with 30 ingredients, including rhubarb roots and juniper berries, resulting in a complex, kinda spicy, kinda sweet, kinda grassy flavor with vanilla notes,” writes Schwartz. Forthave RED, a red bitter liqueur made in Brooklyn, NY, is an editor-favorite here at Food & Wine. But no matter which liqueur you use, whip up an Americano for your next aperitivo hour. Trust us, you and your guests will be so pleased. 


  • 1 1/2 ounces Campari

  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth

  • Club soda, chilled, to top (such as Fever Tree)

  • 1 orange peel (for garnish)


  1. In an ice-filled highball glass, combine Campari and sweet vermouth. Stir until combined and chilled, about 20 seconds.

  2. Fill highball glass to the top with soda water, and stir once more. Garnish with orange twist.

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