The Italian answer to chilled espresso is a frothy dream

By Rebecca Firkser
June 01, 2018
Getty Images/kajakiki

Yesterday, I opened an email newsletter from Bon Appetit entitled “If You Loved Iced Coffee, You Need a Shakerato, Stat.” I’ll admit it, I don’t open every newsletter that pops into my inbox. If you’re anything like me, you probably subscribe to about 75,000 newsletters (at least, that’s how many it feels like I get). It’s hard to read them all, let alone open a few good ones and do a speed-read. The shakerato, however, caught my attention. What was it?

I spend a lot of time thinking about coffee, both in my personal and professional time. Yet I’d never heard of a shakerato. Was it a new Starbucks or Dunkin’ drink with a pseudo-Italian name? Surprisingly, no. A shakerato is a frothy, iced espresso drink popular in Italy in warmer months. The drink is typically sweetened—Oliver Strand wrote in The New York Times that the fruity espresso drink should be sweetened with simple syrup; Bon Appetit recommends using sweetened condensed milk in addition to simple syrup to up the creaminess factor of the drink, which I’m incredibly here for.

While you probably can’t walk into your local Starbucks and order a shakerato, some restaurants and cafes do have the drink on the menu—with their own spin, of course. Grub Street writes that Maialino, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park Hotel, serves their shakerato with an orange twist—likely a nod to the Italian practice of serving classic espresso with a slice of lemon to cut the bitterness. Caffe Umbria in Chicago’s River North neighborhood rims the glass of their shakerato with sugar to really help get your day going, and Equator Coffee in San Francisco incorporates a bit of cream and brown sugar to the drink.

Even if you can’t get one at a cafe, a shakerato is a refreshing alternative to making your own iced coffee or cold brew on a sticky summer morning. To do it yourself, combine 1 shot freshly pulled espresso with a couple teaspoons of simple syrup or superfine sugar, and a handful of ice in a mason jar or cocktail shaker. For extra creaminess, add a big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, or your go-to coffee creamer. Place the lid on tight, then shake the mixture for 15 seconds. Pour the frothy mixture into a glass (ice-filled, if you really like to keep things chilly) and chug. Your morning is about to be a lot more smooth.