I had my first caffè shakerato on the beach at Rimini way back sometime in the mid-90s. The black richness of espresso served cold and frothy was a relevation, and I was instantly hooked. It is by far my favorite way to drink iced coffee.
The recipe for caffè shakerato is incredibly simple:
- A cupful of strong, freshly brewed espresso
- Simple syrup or superfine sugar, to taste
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, add the espresso coffee and some simple syrup to taste. (For me, a tablespoon is plenty.) Shake energetically for about 30 seconds or so, to cool the coffee and develop some froth. Serve in a martini glass or champagne flute.
As explained in this post, simple syrup is nothing more than equal parts sugar and water boiled together and cooled. Its most common use in an Italian kitchen is for making sorbetto, and I always have some on hand during the hot months of the year. But if you don’t happen have any on hand and don’t feel like making some, you can simply use sugar, preferably the ‘superfine’ variety that melts quickly. It’s a perfectly acceptable substitute, but the result will not be quite as fine—besides lending some sweetness, the syrup lends a nice silky mouth feel to the drink that sugar will not. It may or may not be orthodox, but I sometimes replace the syrup with Sambuca, which adds sweetness while ‘correcting’ the coffee, as they say in Italian.
Needless to say, the quality of your caffè shakerato will depend on the quality of the espresso. I hope to blog on making espresso at home in the near future. In the meanwhile, here are three key tips: find the best coffee you can, grind it fresh and brew it strong.