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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

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