Long, bitter cocktails have been an Italian staple for nearly a century—gracing many an aperitivo table during that all important shift from work to play. The most famous of Italy’s bitter long drinks is the Americano, a simple mix of Campari, sweet vermouth and soda invented in Torino during the first decades of the 20th century, and recorded for the first time in Ferruccio Mazzon’s 1920 Guida Al Barman. The genius of the drink is, of course, its simplicity, but also its ability to pack in a whole lot of intensity, while staying light enough that a second round is practically mandatory. And that’s truly all we ask of a long, bitter drink—that it invites us to have just one more. Riffing off of the Americano template (or, more abstractly, the spirit of the drink), these five cocktails all have one very important thing in common, beyond their sheer chugability: they’re bitter.
Bobby Heugel’s (of Houston’s Anvil and The Pastry War) Bitter Intentions inverts the Americano and adds citrus, ending up with a drink that’s a cross between a bitter sour and collins, topped with soda and a float of Carpano Antica for good measure. Sherry evangelist Dan Greenbaum (Attaboy) takes the Americano on a trip south, combining Amaro Montenegro with fino sherry, soda and lime juice in his Second Serve, while Mickey McIlroy’s (Attaboy) modern-classic Rome with a View swaps dry vermouth in for sweet and adds lime for a poppy play on the original Americano.
Stretching the format, Matthew Belanger (Donna) goes tropical, combining four types of bitters (Angostura amaro, Aperol, Cappelletti and Angostura bitters) with pineapple and lime juices in his Quincentuple Your Money, and lengthens it will the all-important addition of soda water. Damon Boelte (Grand Army Bar), ever the proponent of mixing beer and bitters, tops his combination of mezcal, Carpano Antica and Campari with IPA in the Arrowhead Limited, for what is essentially a mash-up of a Negroni and his beloved Americano Perfecto.
While all of these drinks are ideal for whiling away the golden hours, they’re light enough that they can double as loyal day-drinking companions.