I snagged a bottle of this Cocci Americano stuff after seeing it on the shelf at a cocktail bar in Long Beach, CA. It was an impromptu buy — I didn’t know what it was or what to do with it, but thought I’d figure it out. Experiment! Cocktail jazz improvisation! While I’ll save the drama and won’t say it has been life-changing, I will say it’s been evening-changing.
What the hell is it, you ask? Upon further study of what I’ve now been drinking almost nightly, I learned much. First, it’s pronounced “coke-y” not “coach-y,” which is decidedly easier if not less-fun to say. Second, it’s been made the same way since the late 1800’s, in Italy. It’s an aperitif wine that’s been flavored with Cinchona bark, the source of quinine, giving it a somewhat bitter flavor, a huge plus over its sweet cousin Lillet. So it’s citrusy, herby, and just a little bitter.
Tastes aside, here’s why you should care: at $18 a bottle, you can instantly elevate your pre-dinner drink game. First, try it over ice with some club soda and an orange peel. Close your eyes—can you taste the Italian Riviera, almost see the topless sexy beauties? Then, step to a cocktail: a splash of this stuff, which has that bitter edge, makes it perfect. I replace vermouth with it for an instantly-complex gin martini, or you can mix equal parts gin, vodka, and Cocchi Americano for a James Bond (albeit Daniel Craig) Vesper. Or, make a round of Corpse Reviver #2’s, a cocktail with an amazing name but even better flavor. It’ll bring back the dead, or at least cure your hangover.
Corpse Reviver #2
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce Cocchi Americano
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce Cointreau
- 1 drop absinthe or pastis
Shake well with ice and strain into a coup or martini glass. The default would be to garnish with a lemon twist, but I like to garnish with an orange or grapefruit twist because it plays nice with the Cocchi. Live a little. —Paul Brewer