7 ways to enjoy Campari

Bright red and bitter, Campari never really appealed to me. It was more like a science experiment than a drink. But now I’ve acquired the taste of this stuff, I can’t get enough of it. Here are 7 ways you can drink Campari that we’d recommend.

Mr & Mrs Romance - Campari - feature title

Saying Campari looks like some sort of medical experiment is almost right. During the American Prohibition era, it was still legal to drink as it was considered a medicine. It was known as a ‘digestive aid’!

For all we know, it could indeed have several elements from the periodic table in it – the recipe’s secret. Well, we know a bit. We know it’s got quinine in it, the same as tonic water. We know it’s also got rhubarb, ginseng, bergamot oil, Seville orange peel and ginger.

It’s red thanks to cochineal colouring, which is from crushing the abdomens of poor little Central American beetles, so this spirit is not vegetarian.*

Thanks to David I for his feedback on this one. Looks like Campari stopped using carmine, the cochineal colouring from the beetles, in 2006. This means Campari is now completely meat free! 

Because of its colour and flavour, people find Campari quite confronting and tend to avoid it. But some of the amazing drinks out there that use it are fantastic.

7 ways to enjoy Campari - Mr & Mrs Romance

7 ways to drink Campari

1. Negroni – 1 gin, 1 Campari, 1 sweet vermouth over ice in an old fashioned glass.

2. Americano – 1.5 Campari, 1.5 sweet vermouth, 3 club soda over ice in a tall glass.

3. Negroni sbagliato (‘sbagliato’ means ‘mistake’ in Italian because a barman used sparkling wine instead of gin in a negroni). 1 Campari, 1 sweet vermouth, 1 sparkling wine over ice in an old fashioned glass.

4. Jasmine – 1/2 gin, 3/4 Campari, 1 triple sec or Cointreau, ½ lemon juice straight up in a cocktail glass.

5. Bitter screwdriver – 1 Campari 4 orange juice over ice in an old fashioned glass.

6. Jalisco stroll – 1 Campari, 1 dry vermouth, 1 tequila, 1 pinch of salt, twist of lemon peel over ice in an old fashioned glass

7. Mr Richter (by Andrew Bohrer) 1.5 gin, 1 Tuaca, 1 grapefruit juice, 0.5 Campari, rosemary sprig straight up in a cocktail glass.

Bonus: It’s popular – especially in Italy – to drink Campari on the rocks or with soda. Try it. You never know, you might like it!

Mr-and-Mrs-Romance-World-Negroni-Day-cocktail-recipes Mr and Mrs Romance - The negroni

Oh and just so you know, Campari is both bitter and sweet, which is what makes it such a great spirit to blend with.

Here are some other Campari-based features you might like:

World Negroni Week

3 surprisingly easy champagne cocktails

Aperitivo Hour – spritz Aperol

What’s your opinion of Campari? How do you drink it? Tell us in the comments!

Images by Mrs Romance.

6 Comments

  • To be honest i have never tried it but it does look pretty good. not sure how i would go with the whole bitter taste though!

    • Reply June 19, 2015

      Mr Romance

      I know what you mean, Kat. It can be a bit hard to get used to. I remember the first time I tried Campari: Mrs Romance’s dad gave me a Campari on the rocks early on in our relationship. Had to grin and drink it. These days, I’d probably down it and ask for more! If you’re not sure, try it in a Negroni but with only a half measure of Campari with the single measures of gin and sweet vermouth. Might make it a bit less bitter for you. Or with fresh orange juice it’s pretty darn fine!
      Jxx

  • Reply June 23, 2015

    Brad

    We keep Campari on hand to balance out overly-sweet white wine or hard cider. My favorite is a variation on the bicicleta, which is to pour sweet white wine over rocks and add 1/2 oz of Campari. Great summer drink, but be careful – they go down fast!

    • Reply June 23, 2015

      Mr Romance

      That sounds really good, Brad! Will have to give that a go – we’ve had some sweet wine in the fridge for ages not knowing what to do with it. Now we know! Thanks for sharing.
      Jim

  • Reply April 24, 2016

    David I

    Just FYI–Campari has been cochineal-free for quite some time now. They switched to some sort of artificial coloring.

    So if anyone is avoiding Campari because it isn’t vegetarian/vegan, it’s not an issue…

    • Reply April 24, 2016

      Mr Romance

      Hi David. This is great news. They should probably make this better known. Just read into it – looks like they stopped using carmine in 2006.
      Thanks for the update! Appreciated.
      Jim

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