Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New Cocktails: the Romanza

This drink comes from Jacques Bezuidenhout at Pesce restaurant in San Francisco, which appears to have first been recorded by Gaz Regan a decade ago.

More recently I had a number of them at the Liberty Glass bar in Portland, which made for a very pleasant evening. Because I enjoyed it so much, I knew this was a drink I had to figure out how to make at home. While the recipes I've seen online have precise measurements, the ones I had at Liberty Bar were free poured and seemed to work out rather well, so that's how I made them myself.

1 part Campari
1 part orange liqueur
1 part grapefruit juice
1 part soda water

Build over ice in a chilled rocks glass, then stir briefly to combine ingredients.

It's hard to get much of a nose with all the ice, but it's mostly the grapefruit talking. The sip begins bittersweetly, with the orange liqueur and grapefruit balancing each other, while the Campari brings the bitter bass near the back.

This is a case where you really want an orange liqueur with a characterful base. Most of the recipes I've seen suggest Grand Marnier, which has a brandy base. I quite like it with the rhum agricole-based Clément Creole Shrubb. Even better, make your own. But an orange liqueur with a neutral base like Cointreau or even Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao isn't going to cut it here.

But no matter how you make it, this is an almost perfect warm weather cooler. The Campari and grapefruit give it some snap while the orange liqueur smooths out the more assertive elements. This is right up there with the Americano and other classic session drinks for me.


  1. I've been very much enjoying Amari cocktails this year, and this sounds delightful. Will definitely be trying it tonight!

    1. And it's delicious! Cheers!

    2. Glad to hear you like it. I think this is a recipe scheme that I'm going to be playing around with - I've already thought about swapping out the orange liqueur for something like ginger liqueur.

  2. Ah, I like the idea of ginger liqueur. My wife is not a big fan of Campari, yet she enjoyed the Romanza I made last night, so I am going to make a version using Amaro Montenegro for her tonight. Curious to see how the sweeter amaro works in the drink.

    1. Aperol or Cappelletti would also be easy Campari subs that might soften it a bit. Though in that case I would probably ease up on the orange liqueur to keep it from becoming too sweet.

    2. Hmmm...good idea. Looks like I'll *have* to buy some more amari. Shucks.

  3. Well, the Aperol sub was a bit hit with the wife. It morphed into an easy-drinking, slightly bitter Orange Creamsicle. I could probably back off on the orange liqueur even more to balance it a bit better.