This Italian classic is perfect for wine lovers
It’s high summer here, so we’re looking for soothing sippers. Good thing The Bicyclette just rolled in.
This cocktail is tangy and full flavored, but not too high in alcohol. That’s because half the drink is white wine. So it’s a refreshing way to beat the heat.
And because the name means “bicycle,” it’s also the perfect drink for celebrating the Tour de France (our favorite sporting event) – which happens to start this weekend.
Ride – and drink – on.
Recipe: The Bicyclette (aka Bicicletta) Cocktail
The Bicyclette combines dry white wine with Campari. It’s somewhat similar to the Americano Cocktail.
The traditional ratio for the Bicyclette is equal parts white wine and Campari. But some drinkers prefer to alter that balance (typically using more wine than Campari). Some also like to add a hefty splash – maybe an ounce – of soda water to top up the glass.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 1½ to 2 ounces light-bodied dry white wine (or to taste; a light Italian white is particularly nice)
- 1½ to 2 ounces Campari (or to taste)
- garnish of orange wedge or peel/twist; or lemon peel/twist (optional)
- Pour the wine and Campari into a rocks or highball glass. Stir to combine, then add ice.
- Add garnish, if you wish, and serve.
- Any light, dry white wine will work in this drink – just pick something relatively inexpensive that you’d like to drink on its own. We favor Italian whites (pinot grigio, for example).
- Campari is an Italian liqueur with a strong, bitter flavor. Most people don’t like to sip it neat, but it makes a great ingredient in cocktails.
- Some folks like to substitute Aperol for Campari. But we’re Campari fans, so that’s what we use.
- This drink can be called either “Bicyclette” or “Bicicletta.” Both words mean bicycle (the first is French, the second is Italian).
- The cocktail originated in Italy. We have no clue why it now claims to be French.
- How did this drink get its name? The popular story says it was inspired by the sight of elderly men riding home on their bicycles after imbibing a few drinks. (“Riding” might be too generous a term; “swerving” may be more accurate.)
- This drink makes a superb aperitif. But we suggest partaking only after you’ve parked your bike for the day.
- There’s another cocktail called the Bicyclette that doesn’t resemble this drink at all. It contains 1½ ounces gin, ¾ ounce sweet vermouth, ¼ ounce St-Germain, and a couple dashes of peach bitters. Nice drink, but not the classic Bicyclette we know and love.
“Vive la France!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Et vive Le Tour!”
“Are you thinking in French again?” I said.
“Mais oui,” said Mrs K R. “Can’t help it this time of year.”
“Understandable. Le Tour de France is coming up!” I said. “Finest sporting event in the world. Sans doute.”
“Always fun to watch the peleton hammer towards a sprint finish,” said Mrs K R.
“Speaking of sprint finishes,” I said. “Care for a refill?”
“Bien sûr,” said Mrs K R. “Backpedaling isn’t our style.”
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