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The Bicicletta Cocktail, a Milanese Classic

In an excerpt from her book, Stuzzichini, Stef Ferrari revisits a beloved spritz from Milan made with Campari, white wine, and soda.

Bicicletta cocktail.

The Bicicletta cocktail. Photo: Deepi Ahluwalia. Excerpted from STUZZICHINI by Stef Ferrari. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

In her new book, Stuzzichini, author Stef Ferrari explores the "Art of the Italian Snack," with recipes, stories, and more. Read more about the book here, but be sure and prepare yourself a Bicicletta Cocktail first, with help from this excerpt.

The name of this classic Milanese drink, the Bicicletta cocktail, is also a suggestion: Don’t get behind the wheel of an automobile after one. The story goes that the moniker referred not to the suggested method of transportation itself, but to the men who couldn’t keep their bicyclette straight when they piloted them home post-aperitivo. 

Today, this elegant drink appeals to imbibers of all persuasions, especially given its simple formula and adaptability. Swapping out soda water for sparkling limonata or flavored tonics can add dimension, and the selection of red bitters on the market can also serve to modify the cocktail’s profile.

Excerpted from STUZZICHINI by Stef Ferrari. Copyright © 2024 by Stef Ferrari. Photographs by Deepi Ahluwalia.
Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Bicicletta Cocktail

Bicicletta Cocktail

Recipe by Stef Ferrari
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Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 ounces 2 (60 ml) dry white wine (like pinot grigio or Sauvignon blanc)

  • 2 ounces 2 (60 ml) Campari

  • Soda water, q.b. (see Note)

  • Citrus wheel


  • Combine the wine and Campari in a highball or wine glass and add ice.
  • Top with soda water, stir gently, and garnish with an orange or lemon wheel.


  • The amount of soda water in a bicicletta is another oft-debated and open-to-interpretation component of Italian cocktailing. Some say it should be a splash (about ½ ounce), while others have told me simply to “fill the rest of the glass” without ever specifying the size or type of glass. As with most “recipes” in the spritz family, how much water you want to add to your cocktail is adaptable to your mood and needs.

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