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Wednesday Food: February and the Traveling Americano

I’ve enjoyed the last two months’ devotions to particular topics: holiday beer tasting in December, garden cocktails in January. It’s working for me, hopefully it’s working for you, I’m going to stick with it. Let February be called “Oh, The Places You’ll Go Eat and Drink!”

For all intents and purposes February is a throw away month. Hovering between the close of the holiday season and the beginning of spring and new life, it’s kind of the sad bastard of months (any chance that’s why it is so short?) There is one thing that makes February great though– it’s free to become a month of mental retreat.  Last year I hit the books and spent weekends with Edna Millay and Theodore Roosevelt as the snow inched in ascent. This year I’m surrounded by seed catalogs and travel possibilities.

My unoccupied moments are consumed by checking flight costs for September, plotting routes, compiling itineraries, and jotting down restaurants I can’t wait to visit.  Right now my mind is consumed by the prospect of moules frites and a frothy Dubbel in Antwerp, and prosciutto and cheese in Parma.  Tell me you don’t want to spend the rest of your day dreaming of drinking your way through the Trappist Brouwerijen, or dining your way through Emilia-Romagna? I can’t be there right now but I can make a drink that makes me think of both.

I call it the Traveling Americano.  Continuing with last week’s beer cocktails I’ve merged a respectable beer with a classic cocktail to produce an entirely new beverage. A traditional Americano combines Campari and Sweet Vermouth and dilutes it with club soda.  I diluted it with Chimay Rouge.


  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Sweet Vermouth
  • 4 ounces Chimay Rouge or fruity Belgian
  • blood orange wedge

Combine Campari and Vermouth and pour over lots of ice in an old-fashioned tumbler. Top with beer and garnish with orange.

The original cocktail is great in the way it takes a bitter/ sweet alcohol and a sweet/ bitter alcohol and then mellows them out.  While the initial blend remains the same in my recipe, the addition of fruity, yeasty Chimay Rouge attenuates the initial flavor profile– grapefruit, licorice, resinous herbs.  The Chimay smooths and adds volume to the texture while introducing a malty component.

This drink fills me with daydreams of stonewall abbeys and sweeping, grassy hillsides. But I don’t want to dream it, I want to live it.  For now I’ll close my eyes, take a sip of my cocktail and soak in the beer of Belgium and the bitters of Italy until this Americano is abroad.

ALSO!  I’m writing for LA Weekly’s Squid Ink food blog now.  Check it out… 


February 1, 2012 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. My sister would like to note I am una Americana not un Americano.

    Comment by ebolden | February 1, 2012

  2. Oh, phooey on your gender-normativizing sister. This sounds good — I like Campari but always find it a bit much. And once again, congrats on the LA Weekly!

    Comment by Josh K-sky | February 2, 2012

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