Adventures in Alcohol

Cocktail hour: the Americano at Stazione Novella - Bond's first tipple

No one is quite sure how this drink got it's name, but it certainly trips off the tongue better than its original name, Milano-Torino. It slips down the throat pretty easily, too

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 August, 2015, 5:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 August, 2015, 6:21pm

There’s a mean-spirited and unlikely story that says the Americano coffee got its name from American tourists visiting Italy. When local baristas saw that these customers were dismayed at the size of their espresso coffees, the baristas would add lots of hot water, sacrilegious to an Italian.

Given the influence of Italians on US coffee culture – just think of those Starbucks serving size names for one example – this all seems highly unlikely.

The origins of the name Americano for an early form of the Negroni – as mentioned previously, the drink currently swamping every Hong Kong cocktail outlet – are a bit murkier, but the drink has some great aspects of cocktail lore attached to it. It’s the first drink James Bond ever orders, and he dilutes it with Perrier because “in his opinion, expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink".

It may have acquired its name because it was popular with US tourists during the Prohibition period, Emanuele Gorla, manager at Stazione Novella, says. Previously it had been called the Milano-Torino, he explains, because the Campari comes from Milan and the Vermouth from Turin.

Stazione Novella is an Italian neighbourhood joint in SoHo and if this precursor of the Negroni doesn’t appeal, we can highly recommend the Sgroppino Al Limone, a cooling blend of prosecco, vodka and lemon sorbet.

The Americano isn’t supposed to have any soda water in, but apparently many customers follow Bond’s example and ask for some.

The recipe isn’t quite as easy as’s recipe for ice cubes but it’s getting there.

How to make an Americano at home

30ml Campari

30ml Martini Rosso

Optional soda water

Slice of orange

Mix the first two ingredients in a glass with plenty of ice. Add the soda water if you want to and then garnish with a wedge of orange. Unlike a Negroni, you need the flesh as well as the skin of the orange.