Embracing La Dolce Vita: The Americano and Milano Torino

Embracing La Dolce Vita: The Americano and Milano Torino

Posted by Spirits Kiosk on 10 Jul 2023

In the world of cocktails, Italy's contributions shine as bright as the Tuscan sun. And with their aperitivo tradition, Italians have perfected the art of tippling before dining.

Here, we venture into the heart of Italy's iconic pre-dinner cocktails by looking at the Americano and Milano Torino, two stalwarts of the aperitivo hour. 

With a hint of history, a sprinkle of context and a serving of savoir faire, join us as we unravel the narratives behind these two classic Italian serves and show you how you can make them at home.

Milano Torino

The Alluring Americano

Allegedly originating in Gaspare Campari's Milanese bar in the 1860s, the Americano, a blend of Campari and Sweet Vermouth topped with sparkling water, is a simple spin on the Milano-Torino. 

The name "Americano" likely emerged in the 30's. As American tourists flocked to Italy post-Prohibition, they developed a fondness for the sweet and bitter cocktail, so much so that the Italians began referring to it as the Americano, a charming nod to its newfound popularity amongst travellers.

Americano CocktailThe Americano isn't just an adapted Milano Torino for tourists though, it's both a delicious drink in its own right and a bridge to another classic. The Americano paved the way for the Negroni. 

Legend has it that the Negroni was born when Count Camillo Negroni in early 20th-century Florence requested his Americano be strengthened with gin instead of soda water.

Whether these singular moments in time changed the recipes in an instant, or whether their histories are more organic and evolution happened in fractions at a time over decades, it shows just how much similarity the Milano Torino, Americano and Negroni share. 

All three cocktails stem from the same place and for drinkers today their history and shared DNA reminds us that with just a few ingredients, you can wield a wealth of cocktails to suit any mood you are in.

Never tried one? Traditionally enjoyed as an aperitivo, the Americano offers a tantalising balance of Campari's bitterness and sweet red vermouth, softened with a splash of soda water. Served over ice with a slice of orange, it's the perfect opening act to the opera of Italian cuisine. Or for a lazy slice of pizza. No-one’s judging.

Making and Americano cocktail

Americano Recipe

35ml Campari

35ml Sweet vermouth

Soda Water

Orange slice for garnish


Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.

Pour in the Campari and vermouth.

Top up with club soda to taste, giving it a gentle stir.

Garnish with an orange slice.

Milano Torino with Campari and Cocci Vermouth

The Magnificent Milano Torino

As for the original drink that acted as the foundations for not one but two iconic cocktails - Milano Torino is an overlooked classic that still holds its own. It's a tale of two cities and the name is a reflection of the cocktail's key components: Campari from Milan (Milano) and sweet vermouth from Turin (Torino). Served straight up in a chilled glass, it's a potent precursor to a hearty Italian meal.

Milano Torino Recipe

35ml Campari

35ml Sweet vermouth

Lemon twist for garnish


Pour the Campari and vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice.

Stir well until chilled.

Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist.

Now that you've been acquainted with these classics, let's explore a few insider tips to elevate your aperitivo experience.

Opening a bottle of CampariChoice of Vermouth: The vermouth used in both the Americano and Milano Torino is sweet red vermouth, also known as Rosso Vermouth. This type of vermouth is characterised by a rich fruit sweetness and slightly herbal backbone that pairs excellently with the bitterness of Campari.

Remember, the choice of vermouth can significantly influence your cocktail's taste, so don't shy away from experimenting with different brands to discover your personal preference. 

Every brand has its unique blend of botanicals and spices, so each one will lend a unique character to your cocktail. The same goes with the overall sweetness - the amount of sugar used varies greatly. Quality matters. And of course, always ensure your vermouth is fresh — once opened, it should be refrigerated and ideally consumed within 1-2 months.

The Art of Stirring: When it comes to the Milano Torino, stirring is not just for blending, but also for chilling and dilution. A well-stirred cocktail gives a smooth, cold, and balanced taste. So, don't skimp on the ice, stir well, don’t shake.

Garnishing a Milano TorinoThe Garnish Game: Fresh citrus is key. The orange or lemon twist isn't merely for aesthetics — it adds a zest that beautifully complements the bitter-sweet symphony of the cocktail. The citrus accents also help differentiate the two drinks by giving them a different personality. 

And voilà, you're ready to enjoy the Italian aperitivo culture right at your home!

Whether it's the Americano's effervescence tickling your senses or the Milano Torino's robust charm seducing your palate, these cocktails are more than just drinks — they're an invitation to slow down, enjoy the moment, and embrace the Italian art of living.

So, as they say in Italy; Salute! Here's to life, love, and the joy of a well-made cocktail.