What is Campari?

Retro Italian apéritif Campari has made a comeback - and we're with it all the way. Discover our top tips and the best Campari cocktails.

Two negronis with orange slice

Campari, the garishly crimson apéritif often the reserve of Italian grandmothers and men in white linen, has made a comeback - and we're with it all the way. It sometimes comes with the caveat of being "an acquired taste" thanks to its bitter nature but it's worth trucking on and overcoming the initial barrier. We've put together an entry-level guide to the fruity wonder.

What exactly is Campari?

An alcoholic liqueur often nestled at the back of spirit shelves. It ranges from between 20.5% and 28% in strength and was created in Northwest Italy in 1860. Its distinctive 1930s-designed bottle is part of a slick package of stylish advertising and promotion. Its recipe is a secret but distinctive notes include grapefruit, mild herbs, orange and lemon leaves and light spice. 

How to serve Campari

Campari & soda
With soda 

Traditionalists serve it simply with two parts soda water to one part spirit, as in this Campari & soda. Ice is absolutely essential, and a slice of orange both lessens the spirit hit and accentuates the refreshing citrus flavour. 

With citrus juice 

Orange juice works particularly well in place of soda, especially if you squeeze your own. Avoid juices that are bitter or acidic - grapefruit juice works well in theory, but the double hit may be too intense for some. 

As a negroni 

The idea of serving one part Campari with one part gin is a masterpiece of Italian drinking culture. You can add one more part of sweet vermouth if you're drinking past brunch hour.

As a negroni sbagliato 

This souped up version of the negroni replaces the gin with prosecco, making it extra special. You could even create a dessert out of it - replace some of the prosecco with Campari in this jelly recipe, playing about with ratios to suit your crowd. 

In a fruit salad 

Using Campari in food crosses into dubious territory, but it works really well with fruit. This melon medley has combined Campari with mint leaves and orange juice. A dash can also be added to a citrus-based vinaigrette in sophisticated salads, or try pouring it over a sorbet

Try out some of our other Campari recipes or give it a sip neat to pick up dominant flavours then come up with some combinations of your own.

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