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eje

Aperitivo Americano

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Is anyone familiar with Cocchi's Aperitivo Americano?

Aperitivo Americano

Giulio Cocchi's original recipe Americano is more that just a simple aperitif in the town of Asti - in fact, it is the aperitif by definition, a piece of this century's local cultural and gastronomic history. This is the original Americano, produced without a break since 1891 according to an entirely natural recipe: white wine aromatized with many herbs and spices, no artificial colouring, flavouring or additive of any kind.

It has been staring at me from the shelf of the liquor store for a while now. Cocchi also makes an excellent red wine based "Barolo Chinato" digestiv, so I knew it would probably be good. Didn't know what I might do with it, though. However, when I read a description of it comparing it to Lillet, I began to wonder if it might be more like the original Lillet, pre-80s reformulation.

It does have very similar flavors to Lillet Blanc. A much stronger quinine/bitter note, though.

While it is more than enjoyable on its own, I'm definitely going to give it a try in some cocktail recipes that call for Lillet.

Anyone have ideas why it might be called "Americano"?

Googling, I see Gancia also makes an "Americano". However, it is bright red, like Campari.


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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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The Gancia Americano is likely a reference to the Americano highball (Campari/Sweet Vermouth/Soda).

Enrico's had a cocktail on the menu made with Cocchi Americano and Prosecco, but that was almost 10 years ago, and I don't recall the name.


Marcovaldo Dionysos

Cocktail Geek

cocktailgeek@yahoo.com

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The Gancia Americano is likely a reference to the Americano highball (Campari/Sweet Vermouth/Soda).

Enrico's had a cocktail on the menu made with Cocchi Americano and Prosecco, but that was almost 10 years ago, and I don't recall the name.

No, the Gancia Americano appears to be a wine based aperitif, as well.

Gancia Website

The product: Gancia Americano (Aperitivo Originale) is today considered a classic Italian speciality. Its natural wine base combined with a secret blend of herbs, spices and fruits and lower alcohol strength make it the perfect choice for today's modern consumer who can fully enjoy its refreshing, thirst quenching and appetite enhancing qualities.

It is bright red, though.


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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Right, so if I had a beer-and-wine-only liquor license, I could still offer an "Americano" to my guests, even though I can't carry Campari.


Marcovaldo Dionysos

Cocktail Geek

cocktailgeek@yahoo.com

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However, when I read a description of it comparing it to Lillet, I began to wonder if it might be more like the original Lillet, pre-80s reformulation.

It does have very similar flavors to Lillet Blanc.  A much stronger quinine/bitter note, though.

While it is more than enjoyable on its own, I'm definitely going to give it a try in some cocktail recipes that call for Lillet.

So, perhaps this is the closest we can get to the old school Kina Lillet? I'm going to have to track some down, and put a Vesper in my future.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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So, perhaps this is the closest we can get to the old school Kina Lillet?  I'm going to have to track some down, and put a Vesper in my future.

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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I gave the Americano a try in a Vesper and quite enjoyed it.

Used the David Wondrich recipe from the esquire article, James Bond Walks Into a Bar...

The Vesper, 2006

Shake (if you must) with plenty of cracked ice:

    * 3 oz Tanqueray gin (Sorry, 3 oz wimpy Boodles gin - eje)

    * 1 oz 100-proof Stolichnaya vodka (James Bond would shudder, as I used 1 oz Rain vodka based on Corn! - eje)

    * 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc (1/2 oz Cocchi Americano)

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and twist a large swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top. Shoot somebody evil.

My that's a large cocktail! I guess I'm used to my 3 oz Savoy jobbies.

Americano seems more assertive both in spice and bitterness than the Lillet. I guess I'd have to do a double blind of some sort to really tell, if it's not just wishful thinking.

In any case, whether it is more or less like the original cocktail, it is certainly enjoyable.

edit - clarify the parts which were my comments in the recipe.


Edited by eje (log)

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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Wrt measures for the Vesper, this is something we've discussed before over in the Vesper thread.

The original formula is "...Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel."

Erik, you pointed out that the "bar measure" in England was, at the time of Casino Royale, 1/6th gill. That elicited the following post from me:

Convert-Me.com is a very convenient web site for converting all kinds of measures.

1 gill = 4 ounces = 11.8 centiliters (118.3 milliliters)

1/6 gill = 2/3 ounce = 1.97 centiliters (19.72 milliliters)

25 milliliters (2.5 centiliters) = 0.85 ounces = 0.21 gills

For all intents and purposes, the old bar measure of 1/6 gill was 2 cl and the new bar measure of 2.5 cl is 1/5 gill.  So the bar measure became effectively 25% larger with the switch to metric measures.

What this means about Bond's drink is a bit more complicated.  Casino royale was published in 1953.  As far as I know, the UK begain to adopt metric measures sometime around 1965.  This means that the original Vesper was probably measured in gills and not in centiliters.  Something like this:

3/6 gill Gordon's gin

1/6 gill vodka

1/12 gill Lillet Blanc

Or, converted to ounces:

2 ounces Gordon's gin

2/3 ounce vodka

1/3 ounce Lillet Blanc

Certainly not a large drink by modern standards.  Probably 4 ounces or a little more after dilution with water from melting ice.

Dave's right to substitute Tanqueray for Gordon's, because the latter has come down in proof considerably since the time of Casino Royale.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Wrt measures for the Vesper, this is something we've discussed before over in the Vesper thread.

The original formula is "...Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel."

[...]

Dave's right to substitute Tanqueray for Gordon's, because the latter has come down in proof considerably since the time of Casino Royale.

Chuckle, well, you'll have to give him a hard time about his fractions, the next time you see him.

I had the bottle of Plymouth Navy Strength in my hand; but, after thinking about 3 oz of overproof gin for a second, I reconsidered. I still had some chopping to do for dinner, and didn't want to lose any fingers.


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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Americano experiment numero due was the Campden Cocktail.

1/2 Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Boodles Gin), 1/4 Cointreau (3/4 oz Cointreau), 1/4 Kina Lillet (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano).

eGullet user David Santucci had found this cocktail to be a bit on the sweet side.

While I get that, it is an interesting interplay with the Cocchi. You get the initial sweetness, orange and spice, and then the lingering bitterness of the quinine.

The spice element, primarily cinnamon-like flavors, is becoming more apparent to me as I become more familiar with this aperitif. Not at all unpleasant; but, quite strong as a smell, especially in the emptied glass.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Chuckle, well, you'll have to give him a hard time about his fractions, the next time you see him.

Two things to bear in mind, based on a close (ok, not all that unusually close, come to think of it) reading of the Fleming text.

1) Bond is ordering this drink not in London, but on the Continent. So what's a measure? The barman may have used an Imperial British standard 1/6 gill, or he may not.

2) Bond says that he likes his drink "large and very strong." this explains the choice of a (5 or 6-oz) champagne goblet, rather than the standard (small) cocktail glass.

In other words, while I don't know the exact measure Bond was calling for, I don't think a 3 oz drink would cut it. Even if you factor in the fact that that gill would be an Imperial gill, or 5 oz, rather than the 4 oz Mr. Kinsey assumes, it still doesn't really cut it as a"large" drink.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Interesting. But if we're talking "measures" (and, IIRC, Bond asks for "three measures of Gordon's, one vodka, and one Kina Lillet) then aren't we talking ounces at most? Or was there ever an extra-big way of pouring measures?

Also, on a different sub-topic, anywhere in the NYC area that one can acquire this Aperitivo Americano? I've asked for LeNell's to look into ordering it, but I can't find it anywhere for the moment.


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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Interesting. But if we're talking "measures" (and, IIRC, Bond asks for "three measures of Gordon's, one vodka, and one Kina Lillet) then aren't we talking ounces at most? Or was there ever an extra-big way of pouring measures?

Also, on a different sub-topic, anywhere in the NYC area that one can acquire this Aperitivo Americano? I've asked for LeNell's to look into ordering it, but I can't find it anywhere for the moment.

My bottle sez that it is imported by Diamond Wine Merchants, Oakland, CA, if that helps.

I also strongly recommend Cocchi's Barolo Chinato, as long as you are looking. It is a most excellent spiced and bittered red wine based digestiv.

I first heard about it in connection with a drink they make at Absinthe here in San Francisco, the Bob Tailed Nag. I've really come to enjoy it on its own as an after dinner sip.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Finally broke open my bottle last night for a date (Vespers, steak frites, Aviation sorbet for dessert, and a screening of Casino Royale).

I can't say that I was ever a huge fan of the Vesper when made with Lillet Blanc but, out of deference to Bond, will always make them when screening a Bond movie. However, with the Cocchi (and I used Junipero gin and Ciroc vodka) it's absolutely wonderful.

I can't wait to try it in a Corpse Reviver #2.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Some news regarding Cocchi Americano Aperitivo.

My current bottle is getting low, so I asked the manager at a local liquor store when he expected to get more in.

He told me the current shipment has been held by the TTB.

According to him, the TTB inspectors have decided to take issue with the name "Americano," fearing that it will confuse American consumers into thinking the product is made in America.

Also, he told me, the inspectors, in their wisdom, have pointed out that the red and blue stripes on the chicken could be interpreted as a representation of the American flag, which, apparently, is a big no no in liquor packaging. Well, at least, those not made in America.

Le Sigh...


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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Ugh. Your tax dollars at work. I wants a bottle of this stuff, and I wants it now!


Cheers,

Mike

"The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind."

- Bogart

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I'm so glad that I picked up a spare last time I saw a lone bottle on the shelf.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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I finally got to try the Vergano Luli White Chinato this week.

It is a very nice and delicious product. A spiced and bittered aperitif based on Moscato di Asti wine. However, not much like Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano.

The primary difference from either Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano is a seeming complete lack of citrus in the flavorings.

I got a lot of chocolate like flavors and some floral (rose maybe?) components from the Lulli Chinato.

It is also more lightly bittered and spiced than the Cocchi Americano.

Really tasty, though, if a bit pricey.


Edited by eje (log)

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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I had the great pleasure of meeting the charming and informed Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz (and Society member eas) at an industry event at Drink in Boston yesterday. Among much good news (RI distributor MS Walker is picking up a bunch of HA offerings), I learned that Eric will be bringing the Cocchi Aperitivo Americano to these shores early 2010. I had a chance to try it out, and it's heads and tails above Lillet blanc, not only more bitter (quinine and gentian both, says Eric) but also spicier, with a complexity the Lillet lacks. Can't wait to get a bottle and start playing around.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I had the great pleasure of meeting the charming and informed Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz (and Society member eas) at an industry event at Drink in Boston yesterday. Among much good news (RI distributor MS Walker is picking up a bunch of HA offerings), I learned that Eric will be bringing the Cocchi Aperitivo Americano to these shores early 2010. I had a chance to try it out, and it's heads and tails above Lillet blanc, not only more bitter (quinine and gentian both, says Eric) but also spicier, with a complexity the Lillet lacks. Can't wait to get a bottle and start playing around.

Welcome to the Cocchi cult. First, try it in any old school cocktail that calls for Kina Lillet, and I guarantee that you'll be blown away by the difference. Are you certain about early 2010, though? I'd heard November, and that's what it says on Haus Alpenz's website, but if you got it straight from the proverbial horse's mouth, I guess that I'll have to be patient for a few more months.

Did you also have a chance to try the Bonal Gentiane Quina Aperitif Wine? I'm very curious about that one, especially since Suze is no longer available in the US.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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From what Eric said -- and I've pinged him here to clarify -- I believe that they're hopeful it will be on the shelves in late Dec/early Jan. And, no, I didn't get a chance to try that, sadly.


Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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A note here from the importer, Haus Alpenz, in response to the prior message regarding the availability of Cocchi Americano. The initial shipment arrived into the warehouse today and rolls into NYC starting tomorrow. Other markets to fast follow.

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I've been holding off replacing my empty bottle of Lillet waiting for this moment.


 

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Yay! Ian Fleming's birthday is May 28th - I'm hoping that it makes it to LA in time for me to celebrate with a Vesper!


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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