Cocchi Americano Bianco
While you may already have vermouth and Lillet on your radar, let us introduce you to your new favorite aperitif: Cocchi Americano. Pronounced COKE-ee (not COACH-y), it’s a darling of the cocktail community that shines on its own, with a splash of soda, or in any manner of classic cocktails, from white Negronis to ice-cold Vespers.
Cocchi has produced wine-based aperitifs and traditional Piemontese sparkling wines since 1891. Since 1978, the company has been owned and operated by the Bava Family, themselves renowned producers of sparkling wine in Monferrato and Langhe. Giulio Cocchi was a young and creative pastry chef from Florence, where he worked in a popular bar located in Piazza del Duomo. In the late nineteenth century he moved to Asti, a small but lively town in northwest Italy, not far from Torino, and established himself as a distiller and winemaker. His Barolo Chinato, Aperitivo Americano and vermouths became well known during the Belle Epoque and the Italian Futurist period. By 1913 there were twelve Cocchi tasting Bars in Piemonte.
Today the winery maintains its artisan character and follows Giulio’s original recipes to craft the distinctive wines that have made Cocchi a cult name worldwide. In the last 30 years, Cocchi has revived the forgotten wine categories Barolo Chinato and Vermouth di Torino. It was also a leader in establishing the appellation Alta Langa DOCG for traditional Piemontese spumante.
Made to the same recipe since 1891, this Moscato-based aperitif wine has long been a staple of Asti. While the Americano name implies a gentian focus, the wine also includes quinine and citrus for a flavorful, refreshing profile. In Piemonte, it is served chilled with ice, a splash of soda, and an orange peel.
Americano is the name of a category of aperitif wines, enshrined in Italian and EU law, which derive flavor first from gentian and may also be colored red or yellow. That the word ‘Americano’ is also used in reference to a mixed drink and a coffee drink is no mistake—the term originates from the Italian word ‘amaricante’, meaning bittered. Gentian is the most bitter of the bitters, so fruit notes and sweetness are often more intense in Americano-style wines; thus, they are classically drunk with soda.
Cocchi Americano Bianco’s combination of fruit, spice, and bitter undertones can perfect a number of classic mixed drinks. This same profile makes it a splendid pairing with all kinds of pickles, nuts, charcuterie, and cheeses. The simplest Cocchi Americano cocktails are often the best—just add club soda or sparkling wine. A slice of orange or grapefruit lifts everything up and stimulates the nose and brain. These drinks are all-purpose aperitifs, perfect before a meal at home or in a restaurant, where the longer shelf-life and lower pour-cost give great value to bars and customers alike.
SImilar in style to France’s Lillet, Cocchi Americano has a slightly more bitter flavor than its french cousin. It has an amazing balance of sweet, bitter, and herbal with a nice lift from the acidity in the wine; it’s full of white flowers and citrus, yet has enough herbaceousness and alcoholic structure to give it the ability to play well across the board in any number of cocktails. It’s the perfect representation of power and finesse.