Memorial Day is coming up, that day during which we honor those who have fallen while serving in the country’s armed forces. Or, we’re supposed to, anyway. I don’t know how we got from taking a time of remembrance to spending the whole day drinking ourselves silly on a lake, but somehow that’s what happened to the holiday over the years.

At any rate, I’d rather not show up to work on Tuesday still reeking of Margaritas and cheap beer. No, this Memorial Day I’ll be taking a different tack and enjoying one of my favorite low-proof cocktails on the porch.

The Bicicletta (in Italy) or Bicyclette (in France) is part of a family of cocktails that I personally refer to as European Café Cocktails. These low-proof afternoon sippers are designed to relax you while you prepare your appetite for food, but without delivering the one-two punch of a Martini or Manhattan before dinner.

Drinks like the Bicicletta, the Americano, and the Aperol Spritz are designed around three main ingredients: a bitter component, a wine component, and a sparkling component. Think about it, in the Americano the wine component is sweet vermouth; in the Aperol Spritz the wine is Prosecco. And in the Bicicletta it’s plain old white wine. I really like to take a cue from the French and use a nice crisp Muscadet if I can find it.

So this Memorial Day, do your liver a favor and stick with this low-proof refresher. You’ll thank me on Tuesday morning.



• 2 oz. Campari
• 1½ oz. dry white wine
• 1½ oz. club soda


In a collins glass over ice, build the drink in the glass, and give it a quick stir to combine everything. I like to garnish with an orange wedge for this one.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.