Funny thing about Italy is… all your favorite Italian food is there. Crazy, right? I discovered Chinotto here in the US and fell madly in love with it. It’s a non-alcoholic soda made from bitter orange, and tastes like a grapefruit that’s read a lot of Ogden Nash. It’s a tad sharp, but not unpleasant. It’s awfully satisfying in the hot afternoon sun of Florence, for instance, after a slog through all the side streets to finally discover the tiniest of frescoes by Fra Fillipo Lippi and Giotto. I found a little magazine stand selling soda from an ancient display case, and it was the Best Thing I’d Ever Had, and it was also cheaper than the water and Coca-Cola, combined.
Americans love ice because we’re weird, and I swear a nice bottle of Chinotto is satisfying without any, but it’s also nice to add a touch to help muddle these other ingredients. Sparkling wine and gin aren’t necessary; if you like you can just top it with some fizzy water, but the herbal qualities of lime and basil with this quirky little soda aren’t to be missed.
I Found the Giotto Chinotto Cooler
Based on the Sotto Chinotto by Saveur Magazine
- 3 ounces Chinotto
- 1 ounce gin
- 2 whole basil leaves
- Juice of ½ a lime
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Muddle together in an 8-12 oz glass with ice and top off with cold sparkling wine. Serves 1.