19 July 2008

Iced drinks in Italy

il ghiaccio

Many visitors to Italy during the summer months comment on the lack of ice that is served with beverages. This especially noticeable to Americans who are used to large glasses of cold tea or soda filled to the top with ice cubes. In Italy you will be hard pressed to find this, if you want some ice in your drink you will need to ask for it, “un po di ghiaccio, perfavore”. You will also be hard pressed to find an ice machine or especially bags of ice to buy. Italians just don’t like ice in their drinks, unless…

In the hottest part of this summer I have been offered ice, without asking, when I have ordered an amaro. This is a strong drink taken in small quantities that is made of herbs and is known as a “bitter”, my favorite being Amaro Lucano from Basilicata. A couple weeks ago my friend Luca offered me un ghiaccio when I ordered an amaro and I gladly accepted, this is a very refreshing way to have your amaro.

I have also noticed locals during the afternoon putting ice in their vino bianco. First they fill their glass with ice to cool the glass then pour the vino over the ice. I was surprised the first time I saw some friends do this but when I asked them they said that with the heat they want their vino cold.

A popular type of café in the summer is café freddo, simply coffee that has been made and then kept cold in the refrigerator. You just make a pot of moka and once it cools pour it into a container to keep in the frigo to enjoy on a hot afternoon. You will see bars making café and the pouring it into an old wine bottle to store in the frigo. We were at a bar recently with a local friend who is a die hard old-timer and he ordered a café and surprised me by asking for un ghiaccio to put in his coffee which he stirred in until it was gone. I asked him why he didn’t just order a café freddo and he said he likes his café to be fresh.

So the stories you hear about Italians never using ice are a myth, at least partially.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

We often put ice in our vino bianco, even here in the UK..not alot though.

Anonymous said...

Ice in wine but not in iced tea...go figure! It only makes sense if you're Italian.

Bryan said...

Ice in wine is also a big thing in the US. For iced tea I have heard of people ordering a pot of tea and then a glass of ice, mix them together and you have iced tea.