So, you’ve flown to Rome and are now at one of the city’s most famous bars, be it Harry’s or one the many fine establishments boasting spectacular views of the Forum, but you’re not sure what to order. After all, a Jack and Coke or a screwdriver is hardly an appropriate beverage for a great international metropolis. When sitting on bar stools in Rome, after all, you’d like to drink like the Romans do. Here are three great cocktail choices.
The Americano — Considering the name of this fine beverage, you might think ordering it would paint you as an outsider. Fortunately, that’s not really the case. Yes, this thoroughly refreshing, light drink did get its name because visiting Americans seemed to like it, but Italians were guzzling it first and very enthusiastically under another name. It consists of carbonated water, sweet vermouth, and Campari, an amazing cocktail ingredient beloved in Italy combining very strong sweetness and equal parts bitterness. Fun fact: the first drink James Bond ever ordered in Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel (“Casino Royale,” 1953) was the Americano. How could any drink possibly be any cooler?
The Negroni — This concoction of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, usually served “up,” martini style, in a cocktail glass, was supposedly invented by a Count Negroni from Florence. As with most tales about the invention of cocktails, what really happened is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that few drinks will make you happier while chatting with friends. One word of caution, however, it’s fairly strong and too many of these have been known to make more than a few fellows fall from their Roman bar stools.
The Martini — While this even stronger drink was probably first invented in New York City, it may have been the creation of an Italian bartender named Martini. Assuming, however, that that story is entirely legend, there is no doubt that the dry vermouth used so sparingly in a classic dry martini is from the very Italian firm of Martini & Rossi and, in any case, this ultra-classic cocktail is a true citizen of the world. In any case, you’ll never look less than cool in any world capital while drinking a martini. Here’s a secret: Ian Fleming notwithstanding, most cocktail pros prefer their martinis stirred, not shaken, though everyone loves to make a big dent in their bar stools spending hours arguing about it. What could be more Italian?