The Drink: The Bicyclette

A crisp and bitter Italian aperitif named after bicycle riding, bar hopping gents.

I know we’re hardly into March; spring hasn’t even officially begun. But soon there will be a day when the sun is shining and the wind has abated and there is nothing to do more pressing than to pour myself a drink and sit on the deck and sip and revel in the sunlight and the buds forming on the trees. Most likely that day will be bookended by clouds and drizzles and coldness and that’s a good reason to be ready. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the first really nice day of the year catch me unprepared.

I believe in preparedness. That’s why I keep blankets and a case of bottled water in my car trunk and extra shoelaces in the glove box. It’s why my garage is cluttered with tools I rarely need, but wouldn’t dream of discarding. And it’s why, right now, I have a bottle of Vermentino in the refrigerator.

The Vermentino is more of a summer wine than anything—something to pair with a light pasta dish or fish. But, that’s not why I’m keeping it. I want to ring in the new season with a cocktail. Let me introduce you to the Bicyclette.

The Bicyclette is as straightforward as it gets: nothing more than a glass of white wine, with a lemon twist and enough Campari thrown in to let you know it’s serious. Start with half a shot of Campari (.75 oz) in a tumbler with a couple ice cubes. Then fill your glass two thirds of the way with a dry, light and crisp Italian white wine like a Vermentino or Orvietto (or a Pinot Grigio if that’s all you have). Give it a sip. Add some more Campari if you want a bit more bitter kick—many people like their Bicyclettes with as much Campari as wine. But if you’re like me, you’ll just add a lemon twist and call it good. You can even throw in some soda water if you’re so inclined. This is no time for orthodoxy. Make your drink, go outside, and sit down. Enjoy it while it lasts. Summer’s still a long way away.

About our Bartender – Michael Bowers is the Head Bartender at the Modern Hotel and Bar in Boise, Idaho.  His patrons know him for the uncanny precision with which he tends his bar.  Michael’s cocktails have been noted by, among others, Food and Wine, Sunset Magazine, GQ, and the New York Times.  See more in The Drink archive.

Bicyclette