America (or in this case 'Murican) and the 4th of July; I'm riding shotgun, driving is noted Campari enthusiast Steve Bowman who co-owns the forthcoming Fairsted Kitchen, opening Fall 2013 in Brookline’s Washington Square. Take it away Steve:
The ‘Murican: A Bitter Pedigree by Steve Bowman
Summer is the season of the aperitif. As the dog days swelter and the lithium rises, it’s time shelve the weighty, spirit laden refuges of winter and look for something new. Something light, something cool, something refreshing. Something you can quaff all day on decks and patios and still make it to dinner. Something like Campari.
Look around your favorite watering holes this summer and you’ll see its brilliant red hue shining like a beacon from within glasses and tumblers of imbibers in the know. Not only is the bright and bitter Italian infusion of herbs, fruits, spices, and barks a perfect on its own with nothing more than a little ice and a twist of citrus, but Campari is the proud papa of a whole family of thirst quenching aperitifs.
It all starts with in Gaspere Campari’s little cafe in Northern Italy in the mid 1800’s where he crafts his soon to be famous eponymous liqueur. There he serves a simple mixture of Campari and sweet vermouth called the Milano-Torino. The Campari is from Milan, the vermouth, either Martini & Rossi or Carpano, is from Turin. Soon enough, an enterprising bartender adds a top of soda water and serves his creation long in a highball. He names it after the American tourists that flood Italy after the first world war and the Americano is born.
But it takes a true rogue, a member of what cocktail historian David Wondrich calls the “Sporting Fraternity” to create a classic both modern and timeless. Florentine gentleman Count Camillo Negroni, aristocrat, rodeo cowboy, gambler, and barfly extraordinaire, is no stranger to the Americano. But one day between 1919 and 1920, Count Negroni finds himself craving something a little stronger. He stops in at his local, the Cafe Casoni, and directs the barmen to replace the soda water in his Americano with a little gin. Soon enough, locals start requesting their Americano in the “Negroni way”. That recipe of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, has stood the test of time to become a standard of the cocktail craft.
But history doesn’t stop there. From the hands of adventurous barkeeps you can now enjoy a Negroni Sbagliato, a “wrong” negroni replacing the gin with prosecco. Or Negroni riffs based on genever, whiskey, or tequila. I’ve even seen a Negroni sorbet. Inspired by the traditions of Gaspare Campari and Camillo Negroni, I present my answer to summer's oppressive heat: The ‘Murican. Find the biggest glass you have, add equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth and fill with lots of ice. Top with America’s finest champagne of beers, Miller High Life, and garnish with freedom. Or a slice of orange. Whatever you have on hand.
The author is solely responsible for the content.