How Italians Drink Espresso in the Summer

June  2, 2015

Every Tuesday, Italian local Emiko Davies is taking us on a grand tour of Italy, showing us how to make classic, fiercely regional dishes at home.

Today: Shake your coffee.

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When the temperature starts rising and their daily espresso is just too hot to sip, Italians often go for a caffè shakerato—an ice-cold "shaken coffee" that's enjoyed at the beginning of a hot summer's day or at the end of a meal (maybe even spiked).

A few ice cubes, simple syrup (regular sugar won't dissolve), and a freshly made, boiling hot espresso are quickly shaken together in a cocktail shaker. If you don't have a cocktail shaker, improvise with a jar with a screw-top lid. Before the ice melts, the coffee gets frothy—fluffy, even. You can also make this in a blender; you'll end up with a super frothy cocktail-like drink that will feel like you're drinking a caffeinated cloud.

Simple syrup is easy to make and handy to have if you like making cocktails at home. In a small saucepan, combine one part sugar with one part water and boil until the sugar dissolves. Store in a jar in the refrigerator and you can make yourself caffè shakerato all week long.

The classic way to serve this drink is in a chilled martini glass, perhaps garnished with a coffee bean or a dusting of cocoa powder. Then, all you need to do is put on your most Italian sunglasses and pretend you're sitting out in a sunny piazza.

Some variations to consider: Spice things up by spiking the coffee with a dash of something alcoholic. Try rum, sambuca, or amaretto. Or, how about adding some vanilla extract or a twist of lemon zest? Just as long as you add it to the shaker before the hot coffee, which must always come last because of risk of ice melting too quickly, you can experiment with additional flavors. And, if you really want something luxurious, you can always top your caffè shakerato with freshly whipped cream and cocoa powder.

Caffe Shakerato

Makes 1

6 to 8 ice cubes
1 to 2 teaspoons simple syrup, or to taste
1 dash of liqueur, such as rum, sambuca, or amaretto (optional)
2 shots freshly made, hot espresso

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Emiko Davies

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The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.