"Shaken, not stirred." It’s how James Bond orders a martini, and it would undoubtedly be how he would order an iced coffee if he was stuck in a café in Italy with time to spare before jetting to some exotic locale. Can you imagine 007 slurping a huge frappucino out of a plastic cup with a straw? Sipping a caffe shakerato from a martini glass is more like it.
Simply made and minimally presented, the caffe shakerato is Italy’s iced espresso answer to the various frozen ‘cinos that dot the landscape. Where these whipped and frapped drinks taste more of cream and chocolate than coffee, the shakerato proudly puts the bold flavor of the bean first.
Agitation is the essence of the shakerato (literally, "shaker"-ato), as demonstrated above in the tiny walled city of Monteriggioni, in Tuscany. The drink begins to take shape when one freshly-made shot of espresso is combined with crushed ice and a tablespoon (to taste) of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled and cooled) in a cocktail shaker. After a good 30 seconds or so of shaking, the icy solution is strained into an elegant martini glass. The result is a deep, dark, concentrated, and extraordinarily refreshing drink topped with a delicious layer of light brown foam, the reconstituted crema that skimmed the surface of the shot before it was plunged into ice.
That’s all it takes to make a classic shakerato, though it may also be embellished with a drop of liqueur. At the museum café at the Triennale di Milano, where I had my first shakerato, Bailey’s Irish Cream was a surprise addition that I haven't had elsewhere.
If you don’t have an espresso machine, $2.50 will buy you a caffe shakerato made to order at the Crestanello Gran Caffe Italiano, located at 475 Fifth Avenue, across the street from the New York Public Library.