It makes sense that the Italians would invent most exquisite coffee drink for the summer, a shaken-over-ice, slightly sweetened espresso called "shakerato", served in a stemmed glass, prepared in bars all over the country. The shaking process yields a thick "crema" that floats on the espresso. In Italy, ice is viewed with suspicion, and you'd never be served a tall glass of coffee over lots of ice, the way iced coffee is in the U.S. Too dangerous! All that ice could cause "congestione", a digestive block, and the consequence, according to most Italians, are grave, even life-threatening. No wonder they serve ice so sparingly. Recent sanitary codes forbid making and chilling espresso for a simple cold espresso, which isn't nearly as sexy as a shakerato. So the shaken instead of chilled solution is ideal, providing the same jolt as an espresso, chilled but not too icy. And the spectacle of a barman with a cocktail shaker is always a thrill. It's appropriate to order a shakerato any time of the day.
Making a shakerato at home isn't too difficult. Instructing a local "barista" may be an even easier option. Here are some guidelines. Ideally you should have some sugar syrup on hand but you can use a little superfine sugar if you're too lazy to make the syrup. For the ice cubes, size does matter--the point is to melt the ice while shaking with the hot espresso, and smaller cubes melt faster. A metal cocktail shaker works best. Shake a just-made espresso, ice and sugar syrup energetically until ice is almost completely melted--you'll know by the sound of the cubes. Strain into a stemmed glass. Don't try to make more than two or three at a time.
For each "shakerato":
1 espresso coffee
Sugar syrup (or a little superfine sugar)
4 small, ¾" [note: three quarter inch-I'm writing this in case the fraction doesn't work] ice cubes
-July 2009 link to the article published in The Atlantic Magazine