Hey, we only get so many hot days a year here in San Francisco, so when the season approaches, I like to be prepared and have a cooling cocktail at the ready. Last year, it was all about the michelada. But as the summer came to a close, and we journeyed to perhaps the hottest place of all, Palm Springs, I enjoyed a spectacularly refreshing drink at Spencer’s, called the Bicicletta.

The drink is simplicity itself, just Campari, white wine and a spritz of club soda, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts. I am fond of Campari in general, but especially on hot days. Aside from memories of sweltering days on the Amalfi Coast, I find that Campari actually has a cooling effect. The white wine rounds out the cocktail, mellowing the intense bittersweet of the amaro, and of course the club gives it a fizzy kick. They are surprisingly easy to sip on during the dog day afternoons when nothing else is feasible. Luckily, the club soda and ice ensure that you can do so without getting completely fuore come un balcone.


1 part Campari
2 parts light white wine, like Pinot Grigio
good splash club soda

Pour ingredients over ice in a wine glass and stir to combine. Sip while fanning yourself and watching the world go by from behind your enormous Fendi sunglasses. Repeat as necessary.

  • sam

    It’s like the Bicyclette, but with soda. Why ever are you watering it down, young man????

  • bb

    Ah, Campari. The bitter that always makes me feel sweeter! Thanks for sharing. Should it ever warm up here in Portland, this will be on my personal cocktail list………oh, forget it, I’m heading to the liquor cabinet right now! Ciao grazie!!

  • Thanks for the posting. I’ve previously enjoyed the Bicicletta, but without the splash of soda. By the way, I’d suggest mixing up the wine and Campari first and then gently stirring in the soda.
    I read an account of the origin of the name. Supposedly the drink was a favorite of old guys who rode their bicycles to and from the local watering holes in Italy and the general crowd came up with the name to honor the venerable gents, their venerable transportation, and wish them well (perhaps with a bit of a snicker) on making it home.
    A similar drink, with a bit more kick, is the Negroni or Negronis, depending on what you read. It’s equal parts gin, Campari, and vermouth mixed up nicely, a splash of soda and a squeeze of citrus (lime, lemon, or orange) at the end. There’s some controversy over whether the vermouth should be sweet or dry. I prefer dry.
    That makes it not far off from your Bicicletta with added gin and vermouth substituted for pinot grigio.

  • How interesting — I had never heard that story before! I am a big negroni fan; it’s my go-to drink most of the time. I tend to prefer it with sweet vermouth, as the sweetness is a nice foil to the bitterness of the Campari, but I’ve also used Punt e Mes if I want to temper it down a skosh.
    Cheers to you!