Sometimes reinventing the wheel is fun. Other times, you just want a classic cocktail. These beautiful cousins — the Negroni and the Americano — are two of my favorites, and if you stretch logic a touch, they’re a perfect fit for the 4th of July.
Not sure why, but nostalgia and a sort of mostly enjoyable, light melancholy seem to be my groove this flag-waving holiday weekend. Could just be that we’ve packed a lot of feels into a short time period, including a sleepaway camp drop-off and the meeting of an entire new family member, my first-ever niece. Could be yesterday’s eight hours of driving and the perennial fact that, even armed with excellent new podcasts and bursts of ridiculous, awkwardly old/awkwardly new pop music, time alone with my thoughts rarely trends toward simplicity.
Lucky for my brain, we’ve packed in some great experiences, too.
Saturday, friends hosted a barbecue that included not only a memorable lemon-garlic chicken that I hope to replicate here soon, but also — and this may not be where you think I’m heading — some time in their new and truly wonderful Finnish sauna. Apparently there are more saunas than cars in Finland? After a traditional three rounds of cedar-scented heat blasts alternated with plunges in cold water, I can see why you’d want a sauna more than a drive. I’ve warned our friends to look for me loitering on their lawn with expectant eyes come winter. (For locals, you can have a similar experience at the Bear and Birch Russian banya in Freehold, NJ.)
Yesterday was piano camp drop-off day. In this smallest of worlds, we connected with an Italian family whose daughter needed a ride to camp and discovered not only that they are lovely people, but that our daughters went to school in each other’s Northwest London backyards a few years ago. I love the way these moments inform and sustain our American experience.
I’ll talk more about camp once everyone’s home, because it’s a very special place. Leaving there yesterday, I got a little teary — half in anticipation of missing our big girl for the next two weeks, and half in awe and low-grade jealousy of the immersive musical experience she’s about to have.
Lucky for me, I was headed for a drive through southern Vermont vacationland, where green hills, canoe-filled lakes and roadside ice cream shops were really peacocking for me. And at the end of the road, this.
Hey, baby. Nice to meet you.
If you ask me, a stiff, bitter cocktail in flag-stripe red is a perfect match for this state of affairs. I’m a gin lover and really value a good Negroni once in a while. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, don’t overlook the Americano, which swaps out gin for soda water and is a great aperitif or day drink. Both cocktails hail from Italy, and you may be surprised to learn that the Americano came first, apparently because Italian bartenders of the mid 1800s found that American tourists preferred their Milano-Torino cocktails with a big splash of soda water. To me there’s some poetry and comfort in a drink named for Americans by Italians a century and a half ago. Feels just right for my nostalgic Fourth of July weekend.
Enjoy yours, whatever it feels like. 🙂
Talk to you soon.
Classic Negroni Cocktail Recipe
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth (rosso)
- 1 ounce Campari
Classic Americano Cocktail Recipe
- 1 1/2 ounces Campari
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth (rosso)
- 2 ounces soda water
Place some ice in a tall glass. For their slow melt and simple, classy look I used these giant ice cubes. Pour in Campari and vermouth, stir in soda water and serve.