After racking up thousands of kilometers on my bike odometer (I must clarify I’m not a cycling enthusiast, and spinning pedals isn’t my go-to sport), there’s a cocktail I simply can’t ignore: the Bicicletta, which fittingly means “bicycle” in Italian.

Bicicletta is a beloved Italian cocktail that falls under the spritz category, known for wine-based libations infused with bitters and a splash of soda. The origins of spritz cocktails are explored in my Aperol Spritz article, and Bicicletta is closely related to the famous Aperol Spritz. In this case, Campari, the bitter component of Bicicletta, is a cousin of Aperol, with both hailing from the Gruppo Campari lineage. Like Aperol, Campari is a digestive bitter, and you can find more about the classification of bitters in my Aperol Spritz article.

Campari was crafted by Gaspare Campari in 1860. Initially, he served it in his “Cafe Campari” in Novara, but in the same year, he established Gruppo Campari to produce and promote this distinctive liqueur. Today, it’s distributed in more than 190 countries, making it one of the world’s most beloved bitter liqueurs. The exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret. It’s an infusion of aromatic herbs and citrus fruits, with between 40 to 68 different ingredients, diluted with sugar syrup, water, and dyed a captivating ruby hue for visual appeal. Originally, it was colored with carmine dye extracted from cochineal insects living on opuntia cacti, but synthetic dye replaced it in 2006. Campari’s alcohol content ranges from 20.5% to 28% ABV, varying by the country it’s sold in, with 24% ABV being standard in the United States. Typically, Campari is enjoyed with soda or used as a key component in cocktails.

Let’s get back to Bicicletta. According to legend, the cocktail earned its name from elderly men who wobbled along the road while cycling home after one, two, or maybe three drinks in a café. However, in Italy, the cocktail isn’t confined to older folks; it has gained immense popularity across various age groups. Bicicletta has also made its way to France, where it goes by the name Bicyclette, and the French associate it with the Tour de France as a fitting refreshment. I like to think of Bicicletta as the perfect thirst quencher after a long bike ride. It’s a low-alcohol cocktail with a refreshingly satisfying taste, making it ideal for such occasions.

Now, for the Bicicletta recipe:

-2 oz/ 60 ml white wine (opt for a light variety like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc)
-2 oz/ 60 ml Campari
-a splash soda or mineral water
-an orange or lemon wheel

The traditional proportion of wine to Campari is 1:1, but feel free to adjust it according to your taste.

1.Fill a chilled glass (wine or Old Fashioned) with ice cubes.
2.Pour in the wine and Campari.
3.Add a splash of soda.
4.Give it a gentle stir with a straw or small spoon, if needed.
5.Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon. Voila! All the ingredients should be well-chilled.

This one’s for all the cyclists, marking the end of the season, and for those who simply cycle rain or shine! Cheers!

By the way, substituting wine with prosecco creates Veneziano Spritz, another delightful variation worth exploring.

Discuss on FB

Visit my online store for a unique poster featuring this cocktail, along with many other beautiful cocktails and other wine-related subjects.
It’s the perfect way to add a touch of sophistication to your kitchen or bar. Click here to shop now!