Time to break away from the Gin and Tonic, the Negroni and the Aperol Spritz to steer our conversation towards a cocktail that often humbly sits on the side-lines of our drink dictionaries – the Bicicletta.
We’ll try to keep the bike puns to a minimum, despite the cocktail's inviting name. But speaking of bicycles, as the Tour de France peloton weaves its way through the sun-drenched vineyards of France, wouldn't it be fitting to enjoy a drink that epitomises the spirit of cycling? It just makes sense at this time of year!
If you haven't already, watch the Netflix documentary series, get in on the action – you’ll find yourself engrossed in the fierce competition, the jaw-dropping climbs (and descents!) and the heart-stopping sprints, but remember, there's a lesser-known champion that could be right under your nose to sip on something as you do – the Bicicletta.
Celebrating the synergy of sport and grandiose countryside routes reflected in this world-renowned race, this humble cocktail rides a similar course, harmonising the sprint of dry white wine with the endurance of bitter Campari and the refreshing breeze of sparkling water.
What is a Bicicletta?
To the untrained eye, the Bicicletta might seem as easy as riding a bike - a quick mix of dry white wine, a dash of Campari, and a bit of sparkling water. But just like the simple machine its name evokes, there is an art to its construction and despite the charm of its simplicity, a lot to master.
Created during the 1950s in the heat of post-war Italy, the Bicicletta is rumoured to have earned its name from the elderly gentlemen who would ride their bikes to the local bars, enjoy a few drinks and then precariously wobble their way home, much to the amusement of the townsfolk.
It is an apt metaphor for the cocktail itself - approachable, a little unpredictable, but ultimately fulfilling. It might be low alcohol as a cocktail (compared to say, a Negroni), but stick to a couple if you need to roll in a straight line afterwards though...
Classic Bicicletta Recipe
50ml Dry White Wine
25ml Sparkling Water
A slice of fresh orange for garnish
Pour the wine and Campari over ice in a glass, top with sparkling water, stir gently and garnish with the orange slice.
Here are some tips to ensure your ride is as smooth as possible:
Wine selection: Go for a high-acid, citrus-forward white wine. A Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, or Soave Classico will do the trick. The high acidity will cut through the bitterness of the Campari, creating a beautiful symphony of flavours.
Chill everything: Make sure all your ingredients are well-chilled before you start. This keeps the drink refreshing without diluting it excessively.
Garnish wisely: Don't neglect the garnish. That slice of citrus adds a burst of fresh aroma with every sip, enhancing the overall experience of the drink.
Stir, don't shake: No need to do a Stanley Tucci on this one and re-invent the wheel. Just like a good Negroni, stir away.
The Bicicletta is, above all, a testament to simplicity. It's proof that sometimes, the simplest things can offer the greatest pleasures. So, why not take a break from your usual tipple, dust off that cocktail glass, and take a flavourful ride through the Italian countryside?
After all, life is like riding a bicycle – to keep your balance, you must keep moving. Or in our case, keep pouring...