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