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Makes 1 Servings
2 ounces Campari
1 1/2 ounces dry white wine
1/2 ounce club soda
Lemon slice (optional)
Fill wineglass with ice. Add Campari, wine, and soda; stir to mix. Garnish with lemon slice, if desired.
Thirsty for More? If you have a question about this recipe, contact our Test Kitchen at [email protected] To see more recipes like this one, check out our Summer Drinks Slideshow.
Recipe by Hugh Garvey
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The Bicicletta is the easy aperitif to serve at your last-minute dinner party
A pre-dinner drink is a lovely touch when you’re hosting a dinner party, but if you’re thinking “who has time / didn’t you just say last minute / don’t you want me to brush my hair instead?” we say, we get it. White wine is a perfectly fine thing to offer guests as they settle in. But if you have a bottle of white wine handy, you’re halfway to making this cool and casual sipper. Smooth out that hair and make a recipe that instructs one to simply ‘slosh’ and ‘top up’? This is a case where we think we can have it all.
A generous slug of Campari with white wine in a wine glass and perhaps a splash of soda water: the Bicicletta is a classic and very easy Italian aperitif with very good reason. Supposedly named in acknowledgement of the gentlemen who’d weave home on their bicycles after one too many at their local bar, it’s a nifty way of covering the shame of a dreary pinot grigio or other cheap white wine. Don’t drown it out with too much soda just make sure the Campari and wine come straight from the fridge. Another store-cupboard aperitif that’s easy to get a taste for.
How the Bicicletta, a classic Italian drink, got a little dirty
When is a bicycle not a bicycle? When it’s a cocktail, of course, duh. The Bicicletta (bicycle in Italian), is a decades-old breezy cocktail in the spritz family that rolled up again a few years back. Made with Campari, white wine and soda water, it nails the spritz formula of base bitter aperitivo, wine and something bubbly to stretch and lighten the drink.
It’s a malleable recipe that invites improvisation, which leads us today to the Dirty Bicicletta.
For a summer weekend away on a Wisconsin lake, we needed a house drink. But something new, and something simple. Who wants to think too much? See, inventing a drink is actually really tricky. Getting the balance right is not child’s play — not for bartenders, let alone beginners. It’s best to start with something that always works, to riff on a classic. The Boulevardier fits that strategy: The equal-parts drink subbed the gin in Negroni with whiskey, and became a classic itself. That gave us permission to mess with the Bicicletta.
Though it’s faded from menus, supplanted by other spritzes (which in turn are surely fading), it has a long history. In her 2016 book “Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes,” Talia Baiocchi, writes that the Bicicletta dates to 1930s Italy, and was supposedly named “for the mode of transportation in which its drinkers toddle home after several drinks at the local cafe.” OK, whatever, with that Italian folk tale.
Regardless, my riff started with cedrata, an Italian soda made from citron, a citrus fruit that gets made into things over in Europe, but not over here. We don’t have Mountain Citron. Or 7-Up Citron. But I’ve been taken with Italian sodas, and this one, by Baladin, the craft beer maker in Piozzo, Italy, is a bit tart, not that sweet, with a dry finish. I wondered what it would do to a Bicicletta. Make it sweeter?
No, it turns out. It actually brings out the bitterness of the Campari. Which is good, because the wine and soda tamed that flavor too much for us. So the drink was born, pronounced good by all, and stirred up in quantity. Which meant it needed a name, to hold on to its memory. Adding the cedrata messed with the formula — muddied it, you could say. Hence: Dirty Bicicletta.
Like most Italian cocktails or aperitifs there’s a great story behind The Bicicletta, or Bicycle, cocktail. Legend has it that The aperitif was named after the elderly men who swerved all over the road while riding home after a few afternoon drinks at the café. The story sounds about right and remind us of how Count Negroni invented the popular Italian cocktail after requesting something slightly stronger that his regular Campari and Red Vermouth. The Bicicletta is essentially a modified Aperol Spritz minus the Aperol and Prosecco.
The Bicicletta is great as an aperitivo because the alcohol level is relatively low. I especially like aperitivos like the April Spritz, Americano, or Campari and Soda during the summer months (with plenty of ice to cool me down). In fact, why not find a copy of Vittorio De Sica’s neo-realistic classic Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) and whip up a cocktail while you watch!
- Two ounces Campari
- Two ounces dry Italian white wine
- soda water
- Orange slice
- In a wine glass, add Campari and wine
- Add ice and pour soda.
- Stir and add a slice of orange
- Enjoy your Bicicletta
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We've officially fallen in love with the aperitivo ritual this summer, that is to say,&hellip
The Boulevardier Cocktail The Boulevardier Cocktail or "Italian Manhattan" is credited to Harry McElhone, the founder&hellip
The History of the Negroni Have you ever dreamed of being an Italian Count? You&hellip
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A Blurry Bicicletta Cocktail
At brunch recently, an Italian friend of mine cancelled my normal brunch drink and ordered me a Bicicletta instead. "Trust me," he said, laying on the Italian accent of course, "you&aposll love it." And he was right. Bitter, sweet, effervescent and not too strong, this vibrantly colored cocktail is a must for brunch or a summer picnic when you wanna mix it up. Get the supersimple 3-ingredient plus garnish recipe below.
The Bicicletta supposedly gets its name from the old Italian men who would wobble and swerve on their "biciclettas" (Italian for "bicycles") on their way home after having a few too many to drink. Personally, I think it&aposs best made with a dry Italian white wine, such as pinot grigio, as it balances the bitter components of savory Campari. Play around with the amount of club soda you add too. The goal is to add enough club soda to make the drink light and sparkling, but not so much that you dilute the drink and it&aposs bright red color.
Please forgive the bluriness of the photo, perhaps I had one too many biciclettas at that point.
2 ounces Campari, an Italian liqueur
2 ounces white wine, preferably Italian
A light and fragrant Sweet Martini style drink with elderflower liqueur and peach bitters.
Adapted from a drink created in 2008 by Jamie Boudreau, Seattle, USA.
There are approximately 168 calories in one serving of La Bicyclette.
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Bitters are alcoholic beverages prepared with herbs, spices, roots, fruits and peels infused in alcohol or glycerin.
Liqueurs & cordials
Liqueurs and alcoholic cordials are sweetened alcoholic drinks made by mixing or redistilling spirits with flavourings.
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Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail
One of the most famous cocktails from the 1970s, the Harvey Wallbanger is basically a Screwdriver (vodka and orange.
Amid the Dolomites, the Alto Adige Spritz isn’t made with a bitter aperitif instead, it’s made with acqua santa (holy water), an elderflower cordial that’s often made locally by allowing the flowers and sugar to ferment in the sun. Because fresh elderflower isn’t available in the U.S., St. Germain elderflower liqueur is subbed in the recipe below.
Add the St. Germain and mint sprig to a wine glass. Gently muddle together and let sit for 3 minutes. Add ice, the prosecco and the soda water. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with a mint sprig and lemon wheel.
Aperitivo: La Bicicletta
I won’t be going to Italy this summer, so I’ve been enjoying my aperitivo time at home, having my share of Negroni, Aperol Spritz, Vermouth & Soda… and then there is this interesting drink called the Bicicletta.
Created some time in the twenties, the bicicletta became synonymous with old men playing cards in late afternoons at the local bar, as I’ve described above.
This simple concoction originated in Northern Italy but is typically served at bars all around the country. Made with dry white wine and Campari, spritzed up with club soda, the bicicletta is a light, smooth and simple drink that goes down easy so, a few of them pack quite a punch.
The name sounds like a title to a foreign film. La Bicicletta translates to the Bicycle. It is so called because after a few biciclette, one would typically be riding their bicycles criss-crossed and wobbly along the road back home most of the time, in fact, they end up having to walk their bike home.
Note: Bars typically serve this drink topped with club soda, allowing for a long refreshing sipping experience. Restaurants, on the other hand, tend to serve it without the club soda as a pre-dinner drink.