I have this thing for bitterness. I love bitter foods, I take my coffee black and my caffé without sugar (macchiato, please), and Italian after-dinner spirits, amari (bitters), are my thing. So it’s no surprise I love the Italians’ “national” soda, chinotto.
Chinotto is a fizzy drink that, by American standards, is bitter-sweet. Quite popular in Italy, I’ve developed a fondness for it, leading me to dig up its Belle Epoque background and even earlier.
The cult of Chinotto, Italy’s national soda
Italians have a taste for an often-missing component in food: bitterness. It can be found served straight-up in bitter greens, contrasted in the bittersweet tension of cocktails like Negroni, or in Italy’s nation-wide gamma of digestifs called amari (“bitters”). It is even in the Italian answer to Coca-Cola: a soda called Chinotto.
My own weakness for this carbonated drink led me to dig deeper into its history. I unearthed a fascinating collage of images from Italy’s past, from the exotic to the elegant, from pop to a modern re-emergence.