Drink of the Week: The Ugly Americano

The Ugly Americano

I admit it, I’ve gone mad and, like last week, this one’s mine. Yes, I’ve gone mad with the power to create my own drinks — even if no one but me actually tries them — and a bit insane over how tasty this Aperol stuff I picked up a few weeks ago is. I can’t claim credit for the sweetly piquant liqueur’s first DOTW appearance two weeks back, the Aperol Americano, as it’s a common enough substitution. This week, however, I’ve changed things up enough that I think it’s possible that I can claim to have created a variation on a classic original.

This drink is, of course, based on the Americano, a real favorite of mine. I have, however, switched out the two main ingredients. Once again, I’ve replaced Campari with it’s milder but more complex cousin, Aperol. This time, however, I’ve also replaced ordinary sweet vermouth with Punt e Mes, a much bolder sort of vermouth with more than a hint of Aperol/Campari-esque bitter sweetness. It’s also often used as a substitute for vermouth in drinks like the Americano.

Even so, the particular drink below hasn’t been featured anywhere that I know of…though, come to think of it, it probably has been tried and written up someplace. I just hope I never hear about it, because I love this drink so much I want to hog as much credit for it as possible. That’s also why I’ve upped the proportions a bit from the typical Americano. For one thing, Aperol has less alcohol than Campari. More important, however, an Ugly Americano should be slightly excessive.

The Ugly Americano

1 1/2 ounces Aperol
1 1/2 ounces Punt e Mes
Soda water
Orange slice (highly recommended garnish)

Pour the Aperol and Punt e Mes over ice in a chilled Tom Collins/highball or similarly sized glass. Add the orange slice and top off with soda water. (Following the snobby practice of Ian Fleming, I used Perrier this time around, as it was on sale.) Stir for a moment and sip. Ummh, good.

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Yes, with this drink I throw all objectivity to the four winds. I pat myself on the back and follow it with a hearty, though weird, self-embrace.

That might be going a bit far in the eyes of others, but I really do think this drink has real potential. It’s sweeter than an Americano but I think it maintains its respectability by adding even more complexity than the original. Seriously, folks, this drink is so tasty I can’t possibly be the first person to have tried it. Right?

  

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Drink of the Week: The Aperol Americano

The Aperol Americano What kind of drink do you want on Labor Day? Something so strong it’ll make you lose all ambition and forget you even have a job? Maybe you’d be better off with something so delicious and sweet it’ll make you glad you have some hard-earned sheckels and can actually afford some decent booze, but not so heavy duty with alcohol it’ll dehydrate you in the late summer heat or blitz you out to the point that you’re going to have to call in sick on Tuesday morning.

So, we turn to a variation on a genuine cocktail great, the Americano. This version substitutes Campari with Aperol, another liqueur from the same Italian manufacturer which only recently has become widely available on our shores but which I understand has been delighting Europeans en masse since some time not long after Benito Mussolini was given his eternal walking papers.

Aperol is something like a kinder and gentler lower alcohol variation on the super-sweet and super-bitter one-two punch of Campari. While I love it’s more potent cousin, Aperol is, on its own, a drink with just enough bitterness to underline its delightful sweetness.  Using it in an Americano turns into a super refreshing beverage that’s as user-friendly as anything, but just complex enough, I think, to placate a not-too hardbitten cocktail snob. It’s worth a little labor, but making this drink is about as easy as drinking it.

The Aperol Americano

1 ounce Aperol
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Club soda or seltzer water
Orange slice (highly desirable garnish)

Add the Aperol and vermouth to an old fashioned glass with plenty of ice in it and maybe an orange slice or chunk. Top off with soda. Now here’s the difficult part — stir. You might consider toasting the hard working members of organized labor who helped you get that weekend you’re currently enjoying so much.

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When I wrote about the Americano just slightly under a year ago, I described it as “a perfect drink for lightweights” despite the fact that I also noted it’s the first drink ordered by none other than James Bond in none other than the first James Bond novel, “Casino Royale.” Considering that lower alcohol content of Aperol vis-à-vis Campari, I guess this would be an even more perfect beverage for lightweights.

If that’s a little too perfect for you, it’s perfectly acceptable to do what I did and increase the Aperol and vermouth to 1 1/2 ounces each and make the drink in a somewhat larger Tom Collins/highball glass. It’s way good and it still won’t remove you from the workforce.

  

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