April 20, 2010 (Day 80) — Bicyclette
To me, the Campari brand is something that embodies class. Prestige. It’s not a liquor you often see simply sitting behind the bar at your local dive (which have their own awesome array of boozes, mind you). But, when I hear Campari mentioned, I think of a piano bar in New York City.
An Italian restaurant.
A poster on an average college girl’s dorm room or sorority house.
Or, if you’re a cold blooded, shuffling, slouching, dim-witted, hairy, itching, grunting male like myself, you think of the more recent Salma Hayek ads.
Insider’s Tip: If you look closely, and the lighting is just right, you can see a bottle of Campari in that photo! Hard to believe, I know.
So far, I’ve already made three other cocktails with Campari, including one original. But, I’m always eager to try something new and unique. So this afternoon, I turned to my loyal (sometimes buzzed) base of Twitter followers and put out a call for a unique drink using Campari as the base.
Ryan Adams (@nose2tailathome on Twitter) came through and provided me with this link to a classic Italian cocktail called the Bicyclette.
Take note of the above-linked article. The recipe simply calls for “white wine.” After some exhaustive research (i.e. the first two hits on Google for “Bicyclette cocktail”) I was unable to track down a specific style of wine. So, I figured that means it was left up to me. Now, anyone who knows anything about wines knows that choosing your wine for this drink is going to drastically affect the taste.
Working with previous knowledge of Campari’s bitterness, I chose to go with a sweeter wine. I settled on a Riesling. This, however, is a dry riesling, as I wanted something I would drink outside of this cocktail. And normal rieselings are simply too sweet for my tastes.
So, here’s the recipe:
2 oz Campari
2 oz white wine (Way Kühl Dry Riesling)
1 oz club soda (Canada Dry)
Twist of lemon to garnish
Pour the Campari, wine and club soda into a pint glass, mixing well. Pour drink into a wine glass filled with ice.
Garnish with the lemon.
From the New York Times article:
The drink is known in its native Italy as a Bicyclette — owing, Mr. Henderson said, to the old men who drink it and then “go weebling home upon their bicycles.”
Charming. And delicious. Henderson suggests the Bicyclette as an aperitif, so that’s exactly what I used it for. The bitter cherry and spice of the Campari mixes very well with the dry sweetness of the riesling (If you haven’t ever tried Way Kühl, see if you can’t track it down. It’s probably the only riesling we’ll drink.) The bitterness of the Campari is still pronounced, but it makes for an excellent sipping drink.
This certainly isn’t a foofy drink, so if you’re expecting something that will dazzle your sweet taste buds, look somewhere else. This is very understated. The Campari is tempered by the riesling, and the club soda adds just a little bit of sparkle to it. How fitting that as soon as I return from taking the stinky-ass dog out for a walk, I’ll be tucking in to some chicken and spinach cannelloni.