Are you looking for something new to serve your summer guests, something different than the classic Aperol Spritz? Look to The House of Cocchi, the pride of Piemonte. Since 1891 people the world over have enjoyed their products. With 6200 hectares of vineyard Cocchi produces some of the world’s finest spumanti, along with vini aromatizzati, including Vermouth Storico, and a marvelous Barolo Chinato.
Vini aromatizzati (aromatized wines) have been with us for millennia and are made by infusing wine with spices, herbs and roots. Vermouth is perhaps the best known among this class of wine. China (cinchona bark or quinine) with its beloved bitter bite is typically used in these wines, and is often their final flavor note.
Cocchi Americano is one of the company’s oldest vini aromatizzati. Long a favorite, it is made from Moscato d’Asti, herbs, and spices. Over the years Cocchi has occasionally produced variations on that classic theme, and Cocchi Americano Rosa is the latest. If you are curious about “bitters,” but find that even Aperol is too much for you, Americano Rosa is most definitely the answer. The bitter element while present, is subtle, just enough to balance the sweetness and fruit of the wine. Having debuted in the U.S. last spring, it is now widely available, just in time for summer tippling.
Made of Malvasia and Brachetto, naturally aromatic grape varietals, the wine has the most delightful notes of white roses and the sweet-tart flavors of the berries of summer. Masterfully blended with herbs, fruit and spices, including ginger, gentian, and cinchona, this is unique. Don’t be tempted to think of this as a ladies’ only drink; with a complexity that lends itself to mixing, this is for everyone at your table.
The luxurious mouthfeel, earthy vegetal notes of gentian and cinchona complement the fruit, floral and spice notes, and a distinct peppery warmth of pink grapefruit lends a complexity that will keep you sipping and sipping. Cocchi recommends serving this over ice with soda or tonic and a lemon wheel or mixed with Prosecco to start. All three versions make excellent aperitivi, not too sweet with just a hint of bitter.
The first time I tasted Cocchi Americano Rosa I was intrigued by notes of spicy rose petals along with the distinct taste of pink grapefruit; I knew I had found my new summer drink. Mix it with pink or ruby red grapefruit juice over cracked ice for a refreshing late morning or afternoon tipple. I call this one the Alba Rosa. Serve this at your next brunch gathering, and the Bloody Mary will be a thing of the past.
If you want something with a little more alcohol, yet still light enough for summer, try a Backsplash. This one is a combination of Americano Rosa and Solerno, an alluring and harmonious marriage of the grapefruit and spice of Americano Rosa and the Sicilian blood orange and lemon of the Solerno. The multi-layered cocktail is not too sweet, with just a kiss of bitter. The formula is simple, 1:1, equal parts of both liquors shaken with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. A proper cocktail is measured in ounces, and to my mind, two or three ounces is enough. More than that, and by the time I get to the bottom, my cocktail is room temperature, a sad state of affairs indeed. Finish this one with a garnish of either lemon or orange.
Try Americano Rosa once, and you’ll find its complex, yet refreshing nature perfect for summer imbibing. In case you were wondering about that garnet color you see, it is 100% natural.
Americano Rosa and Soda
4 ounces Cocchi Americano Rosa
2 ounces soda or sparkling water
Place ice cubes in a rocks glass. Add Americano Rosa and soda. Stir well with a bar spoon. Add a lemon wheel and serve.
¼ cup Cocchi Americano Rosa
¾ cup fresh squeezed ruby red or pink grapefruit juice
Fill a glass, any size you like, rocks, highball or otherwise, half full with cracked ice. Add Cocchi Americano Rosa and grapefruit juice, and stir. You can use commercial grapefruit juice, but fresh juice provides a far more alluring color and a fresher brighter flavor. Garnish with a wedge of ruby red or pink grapefruit and serve.
2 oz. Cocchi Americano Rosa
2 oz. Solerno
orange or lemon wheels for garnish
Chill the cocktail glasses. Fill a cocktail shaker half full with cracked ice and add liquors. Shake for thirty seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with an orange or lemon wheel. Serve.
Cocchi Americano Rosa is available at The Wine House in West Los Angeles, K&L Wine Merchants, and at other purveyors of fine wine and spirits. The cost is about $22.00 for 750 ml.