Pickle blood orange Americano cocktail is a pickle twist on the Americano highball cocktail. The pickle blood orange Americano swaps out the usual soda water for a fermented blood orange soda, flavoured with cinnamon, made with a ginger bug starter, paired with equal parts of Campari and Sweet Vermouth served over ice and garnished with fresh blood orange, for a flavourful low alcohol cocktail. The pickle blood orange Americano cocktail is a refreshing long highball drink that has a delicious and complex flavour from fermented blood oranges, ginger and cinnamon. This is my celebration of almost the last of the season’s blood oranges, from some of which I made this delicious homemade fermented soda.
What is an Americano cocktail? Ingredients
An Americano cocktail is a highball cocktail using equal parts of Campari and Sweet Vermouth, over ice, topped with soda water and garnished orange for a very refreshing and low alcohol cocktail. For the basic recipe for an Americano cocktail I have referred to Dale de Groff’s The Craft of the Cocktail (2002: 75) and the Cocktail Codex (Day, Fauchauld, Kaplan 2018: 209), both agree that the Americano calls for:
- Campari, and
- Sweet Vermouth – in equal parts
- Soda water to top
- Garnish: flamed orange peel (De Groff 2002: 75), orange wheel (Day, Fauchauld, Kaplan: 209)
Origins of the Americano & related drinks: Milano-Torino, Mi-To, Negroni
Simon Difford (2019) in Americano and Punch in their article Milano-Torino recount that the Americano has origins in the Milano-Torino, or Mi-To cocktail, dating from the 1860’s in Milan Italy, where the name referred to the origins of Campari from Milano and Sweet Vermouth from di Torino. The Milano-Torino or Mi-To is a short drink over ice, garnished with an orange slice. Campari and Sweet Vermouth also feature in the related Negroni cocktail where gin is the third ingredient rather than soda water (Day, Fauchauld, Kaplan 2018: 209). Difford (2019) elaborates that the Milano-Torino lengthened with soda water as a highball became popular with American tourists during Prohibition and hence was named Americano.
How to make an Americano cocktail: Build in the glass & stir
Like other highball cocktails such as the Chilcano de Pisco, La Paloma and Gin Buck the Americano is simple and elegant to make by building in the glass with ice, topping with soda water, stirring gently, and garnishing with a flamed orange peel or orange wheel. In the Cocktail Codex Day, Fauchauld and Kaplan (2018: 209) describe how the aroma and flavour of the orange add an important and essential element to the experience of the Americano – a sweetness from the orange offers a wonderful counterpoint to the bitterness of the Campari and complex herbal Sweet Vermouth:
“…the orange garnish is important for this cocktail: it perfumes the nose, and its flavors slowly seep into the drink as it’s consumed.”
How is the pickle blood orange Americano cocktail different?
The pickle blood orange Americano cocktail is a seasonal celebration of blood oranges using a fermented soda made from blood oranges flavoured with ginger and cinnamon and low GI cane sugar paired with the bitter flavour of Campari and sweet complexity of Vermouth. The blood orange soda adds a layer of complex depth to this refreshing cocktail where the usual soda water has been swapped out.
Flavour pairing – Blood orange & bitterness – The importance of orange flavour and aroma for the Americano to act as a foil to the bitterness and complexity of the Campari and Sweet Vermouth have already been highlighted above – this fermented blood orange soda plays and elaborates on this orange theme with tart and sweet blood oranges, cinnamon and ginger that pairs wonderfully with both the Campari and the Sweet Vermouth.
Homemade fermented blood orange soda – Making your own fermented blood orange soda does take some time but is easy to do using a fermented from scratch ginger bug starter. I have in my post on Chilcano de Pisco provided a detailed recipe and tips for starting and maintaining a ginger bug starter. A ginger bug is fantastic for creating your own tea and fruit sodas and ginger beer. I have posted recipes for strawberry, hibiscus, ginger and grapefruit soda and ginger beer that make delicious refreshing drinks and cocktail mixers. The method used for making the blood orange soda is informed by Holly Davis’ (2017) amazing book Ferment. The flavour pairing of blood orange, ginger and cinnamon is my own contribution as is use of this fermented blood orange soda in an Americano cocktail.
Build in the glass, blood orange garnish – The pickle blood orange Americano highball cocktail is built in the glass over ice with the Campari and Sweet Vermouth added first and then topped with fermented blood orange soda and gently stirred. The pickle blood orange Americano cocktail is garnished with a half orange wheel slice in the glass and on top of the glass for added aroma and sweetness and a pop of orange and red colour.
Pickle blood orange Americano cocktailPrint Recipe
- Ginger bug starter: 1 tablespoon ginger with skin on, washed and grated
- 1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
- 100mls water
- Ginger bug daily feed for 1 week: 1 tablespoon ginger with skin on, washed and grated
- 1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
- 50mls water
- Fermented blood orange soda: 3 ½ cups blood orange juice (10 small blood oranges)
- Zest from 10 small blood oranges
- 110 grams sliced, washed ginger, skin on
- 220 grams low GI cane sugar
- Cinnamon stick
- ½ cup of filtered boiled water
- 3 ½ cups cool filtered water
- ½ cup strained active ginger bug starter
- Pickle blood orange Americano cocktail: 1 shot Campari
- 1 shot Sweet Vermouth, I used Carpano Antica Formula
- Fermented blood orange soda to top
- Glassware: highball or tall glass
- Garnish: half a blood orange wheel in the glass and half a blood orange wheel on top of the glass
Ginger bug starter: Add grated ginger, sugar and water to a clean mason jar and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar
Cover with a clean cloth and store in a cool dark place
Maintain ginger bug: Remove the ginger bug from storage daily and feed 1 tablespoon of grated ginger and sugar and 50mls of water and stir with wooden spoon for approximately 1 week – it is ready when bubbles appear.
If keeping and maintaining the ginger bug for further use, you can either continue to feed as above daily and store at room temperature or arrest the fermentation process by refrigerating the bug and feeding once per week with the same daily feed then placing back in the fridge.
When ready to use a refrigerated bug simply begin the daily feeding process and store at room temperature until bubbles form.
Fermented blood orange soda: Wash and zest the blood oranges
Rub the blood orange zest on the sugar and set aside
Wash and slice the ginger
In a saucepan, combine the ginger, sugar and blood orange zest mixture and cinnamon
Add the boiling water and stir to dissolve the sugar
Allow the ginger, cinnamon, blood orange zest tea to infuse until cool
Meanwhile, juice your blood oranges
When the tea has cooled strain using a fine mesh strainer
Add the cool filtered water and the blood orange juice to the cooled tea
Add the strained ginger bug
Pour the completed base soda into a fermenting crock or clean bowl and cover with a clean tea towel or cheesecloth
Stir the soda 2-3 times per day to create a vortex to encourage oxygenation which promotes fermentation
Allow to ferment for up to 3 days until bubbles appear
When bubbles appear the soda is ready to decant into flip top bottles
Store the flip top bottles of soda in the fridge and open the tops or ‘burp’ the bottles daily to release carbon dioxide
Use within 3-4 days
Pickle blood orange Americano cocktail: Add the Campari and Sweet Vermouth to an ice filled highball or tall glass, with a half wheel of blood orange in the glass
Top with fermented blood orange soda
Garnish with a half wheel of blood orange on top of the glass
Alex Day, Nick Fauchauld & David Kaplan (2018). Cocktail Codex. Ten Speed Press: New York.
De Groff (2002). The craft of the cocktail: Everything you need to know to be a master bartender, with 500 recipes. Clarkson Potter: New York.
Fermented sodas, ginger bug starter
Holly Davis (2017). Ferment: A guide to the art of making ancient cultured goods. Murdoch Books: Crows Nest, Sydney.
Online Americano, Milano-Torino, Mi-To recipes
Simon Difford (2019). Americano. In Difford’s Guide.
Punch (accessed 2019). Milano-Torino. In Punch.