The Americano Highball

Readers, I know I walked out on you six weeks ago sans peep, leaving you high and dry (literally) like a (figurative) con man who says he's just stepping out for a pack of smokes, and I apologize fully and sincerely for the subsequent dormancy of this blog. Know this, though: That whole time I was gone, I did not cheat on you. Not ever. Not once.

Sure, my crazy, overpacked life since early May has included a cousin-in-law's Vermont nuptials complete with top-shelf Knob Creek behind the open bar; the debut of a wine bar and beer garden directly across the street from my apartment (the night they opened, they served me a cheese plate that contained a pat of butter disguised as a slice of white cheddar, and yeah, I bit into it, but you know, bygones); a random tipsy game night here and a solitary evening at home with a bottle of wine there. But no cocktails. I really went well over a month without drinking a proper cocktail. So what I'm saying is, maybe I'm an ass for disappearing like that, but I'm a faithful ass.

Today's the summer solstice, a time for forgiveness according to the Greek god of  things I just made up. So let's get back to business with a (four-day) week of summer cocktails. It's Summer Cocktail Week! Let us rejoice and be glad!

A summer cocktail is a peculiar thing. For one thing, it has a job to do besides inebriating. A summer cocktail must possess the wherewithal to slice through a humid haze, a feat easier said than drunk. A gin and tonic can do it. (Summertime is, in fact, the only time I ever bother with a gin and tonic.) Beer can do it, too, and often better, and so a summer cocktail's really gotta have game. To my mind, one of the best summer cocktails going is the Americano Highball.

An Americano Highball is basically a Negroni ratcheted down to mixed-drink status, with club soda filling in for the gin. Actually, I got that backwards; according to my ever-trusty How's Your Drink?, first Italy invented the Americano Highball and named it so because it was a huge hit with Yankee tourists, then Count Negroni asked his local bartender to figure out an Americano with more of a kick to it. Either way, that combination of Campari and sweet vermouth is an unbeatable heat-buster, a most perfect calibration of bitter and sweet with a nice, dry finish.

The Americano Highball

(Courtesy of How's Your Drink?)

1 1/2 ounces Campari

1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth

Soda water

Pour ingredients in given order into an ice-filled highball glass. Stir briskly for a few seconds at most. Garnish with orange peel and, summerishly, a drink umbrella.

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