A Field Guide to Bitter Italian Sodas

bitter italian sodasAs Sarah Karnasiewicz explores in the July/August 2018 issue, bitter Italian sodas are increasingly finding favor among American bartenders and drinkers. Though a wide array of regional sodas can be found in Italy, only a few of the larger players make their way regularly to the United States. To source them, your best bets are online retailers like Italian Harvest, international markets like Eataly, and—in cities with large Italian-American populations—local specialty grocers. Here are nine bottles worth seeking out.

SanBitter Red
Ruby-hued and puckeringly tart, this tiny tipple from San Pellegrino is a dead ringer for Campari. amazon.com

SanBitter Dry
Slightly sweeter and more floral than its red counterpart, this soda pairs well with dry vermouth, lemonade and citrus tonics. amazon.com

San Pellegrino Chinotto
Italy’s most widely available (and mass-produced) chinotto combines caramel cola sweetness with a fresh, herbal finish. amazon.com

Lurisia Chinotto
With a base of super-effervescent mineral water from the Fonte Santa Barbara di Lurisia in the Piedmonte, this all-natural nouveau chinotto has a sterling pedigree. eataly.com

Baladin Spuma Nera
The brainchild of pioneering Italian craft brewer Teo Musso, this chinotto-style soda is as dark and dry as espresso, with a funky, fruity edge. eataly.com

The original “blond aperitivo,” this spicy soda has bright notes of clove, nutmeg and coriander. amazon.com

Festivo Portofino Italian Bitter Tonic
Milder than some of its counterparts, with prominent rhubarb and ginger flavors, this fizzy soda tastes like a bittersweet lemonade. eataly.com

J. Gasco Bitter Soda
This bracing Piedmontese soda is infused with black carrot juice and safflower. Try it neat or with rum as a twist on the Dark ‘n Stormy. italianharvest.com

This sweet-tart chartreuse-colored soda (pictured above), made from Calabrian citron, has been one of Italy’s iconic soft drinks since 1956. eataly.com

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