alissa and ryanbehind the bardrinksentertainingFood & Drink

behind the bar: molly wizenberg’s americano

by Ryan and Alissa Walker

Boy, do we have a treat for you today! Molly Wizenberg of Orangette and A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table fame is sharing her current favorite drink, the Americano, with everyone here at Design*Sponge. If you are not familiar with Molly, as I was only a few months ago, you are in for a double treat. Molly is a fantastically humorous, endearingly sweet but never sentimental writer and food blogger. Soon after I contacted Molly to contribute to our Behind the Bar column, I went out to Barnes & Noble and grabbed a copy of her book. I started right away on A Homemade Life, finishing it in only a couple of nights and LOVED it — recipes and all — and I don’t even like to cook!

After trying Tina Frey’s feature, the Negroni, which is way too strong for my delicate (read: uneducated) palate, I was reluctant to try the Americano. After a little coercing from Ryan, however, we got down to business (at two in the afternoon) and sampled the surprisingly refreshing Americano accompanied by Lay’s Garden Tomato & Basil Flavored Potato Chips (the commercial totally sucked me in). I probably added a little more club soda than most, but this really is a great drink for those of you with delicate drink preferences wanting to step it up a notch in your pre-dinner drink repertoire. And now enough of my babbling and on to Molly. — Alissa + Ryan

PS — To learn how Molly’s drink, the Americano, is intimately related to Tina Frey’s feature, the Negroni, read Tina’s post here.

CLICK HERE for the full drink recipe after the jump!


This is a great drink formula to keep in your back pocket because it’s adaptable to so many palates: add more or less club soda until it tastes right to you. I have a bottle of Boissiere sweet vermouth in my refrigerator, so that’s what I’ve been using, but Cinzano is also a good bet for Americanos, as is Martini & Rossi. And if you have a bottle of the pricier Carpano Antica, that’s worth a try, too, though I sometimes find its herbal flavor a distraction here.

Oh, and if you, like me, are somehow currently without a cocktail measure, remember that you can use measuring spoons. One tablespoon equals 1/2 ounce.


  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • club soda
  • a slice of orange

Makes 1 serving

Fill an old-fashioned glass (or any short, wide-mouth glass with a capacity of about 8 ounces) with ice cubes. Add Campari and sweet vermouth, and stir to mix. Top off with club soda. Garnish with an orange slice.

About Molly: Molly Wizenberg writes the blog Orangette, and her first book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, was a New York Times bestseller. She is still recovering from the shock of that. She lives in Seattle with her husband Brandon Pettit, and together they own the restaurant Delancey. She is currently working on her second book.

Photo by Kyle Johnson

Why the Americano?
I went to London last summer to visit a friend, and one night, as we sat down to dinner in a restaurant, I saw someone order a Campari and soda. I hadn’t thought much about Campari before — mostly, I’d been intimidated by it: so bright red, so bitter —but that night, it seemed oddly appealing. I love the idea of an aperitivo before dinner, a drink to stimulate the appetite, and it doesn’t get more classic than Campari and soda. So I decided to give it a chance.

Of course, let’s be real: it took a little getting used to. But after a couple of goes, I not only liked Campari, but I sort of loved it. And though Campari and soda is nice, I quickly discovered that an Americano, which adds sweet vermouth to the equation, can be even nicer. Vermouth brings sweetness, subtle bitterness and a depth that balances and complements the flavor of Campari. It’s incredibly refreshing. It’s also dead-easy to make — just the way I like my cocktails — and it feels right year-round, in any weather.

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  • I love Campari! In the summer, I keep it in my freezer and have it with tonic and tons of fresh lime. Simple, beautiful and SO refreshing.

  • Ooh that sounds good! I am totally digging delicious cocktails!! I was in NYC last week and had the most AMAZING cocktails everywhere we went! Am going to give this one a try! Thanks for sharing:)

  • I love Molly and Orangette! I have tried many of her recipes and recommendations, and have always loved the results. Will have to try this one…

  • Molly, thanks for the delish and doable suggestion, as always! I’ve made so many of your recipes over the years… Thanks for making us feel good about the food you share as well as making it feel attainable. There are so many possible things to cook out there, and your curating has always been a bit of a rudder for my culinary explorations. I picked up some sweet vermouth last week to try a mixologist friend of a friend’s ‘tongue in cheek’ (it involves bourbon and muddled strawberries – enough said) recipe last week, so this will be a great classic to follow it up with in my vermouth explorations!

  • Perfect timing. It has been dreadfully hot in Chicago for the past few days. This sounds like a good way to start the weekend. Just need to make some ice.

  • As a big fan both of Orangette and the Americano, thank you for a great post. Reading it was almost (but not quite) as refreshing as sipping on a cool, bitter aperitivo!

    And Molly’s brilliant photography just gets better and better with time.

  • Hi everybody!
    I’ve got a cocktail cafe in Italy and i’m a barman. Americano is one of the most famous italian cocktail and i would like to suggest to try the original recipe with selz and not club soda! For swwet palate i would recommand the spritz! In italy is the fashion drink of this moment! The recipe is: 1oz Aperol, 1oz prosecco or brut, and selz serve in a balloon full of ice with a slice of orange.
    Lovely site and photos anyway! can’t wait for next recipes

  • Hi, all –

    Thanks for your comments! I was so excited to contribute to Behind the Bar, and it makes me happy to know that you might be mixing up Americanos this weekend…

    And Katherine, I love(!) the idea of Campari with lime. I’d never thought of that! Going to try it immediately.