Ah, Campari

Campari and soda in a glass with ice

Campari is one of my favorite things to sip. The aggressive scarlet liqueur falls under the umbrella of amari, bittersweet drinks made from soaking herbs, flowers, roots, barks, and peels in alcohol. Amari fall into two groups: aperitivi (pre-dinner drinks that sharpen your appetite) and digestivi (post-dinner drinks that ease digestion). In Italy the number of amari is somewhere north of 300. Some are pretty damn weird.

Campari is a classic. The liqueur gives rise to a whole family of cocktails, ranging from classic to contemporary. But I prefer the simplest one: Campari and soda poured over a tower of rocks. There’s nothing like a glass of this stuff to fire your stomach for a meal and put your mind at perfect ease.

Warning: Campari is bitter. My brother Nick, with whom I’ve eaten grasshopper tacos and some bizarre dim sum, won’t touch Campari. If you aren’t into bitter flavors, mix these drinks with Aperol  instead. It’s light and fruity. It’s Campari without the bitter.

A top-view of Campari seen from above the bottle cap

First up: Campari and soda. This is a real drink. I can see the summer sun and the ocean and the grilled swordfish before the first bubbles even break on my tongue. To make: fill a glass with ice. Add 1 part Campari, 2 parts soda. Drink in the sun.

A tall glass of fizzy Campari and soda cocktail

[Campari and Soda]

Second up: Americano. An Americano is similar to Campari and soda but brings some musk and darkness from the added vermouth. The drink has more mystery kicking around than Campari and soda, more notes in a more complex song. It’s more of a cocktail than a naked expression of Campari. It also hits your mind harder.

To make an Americano, fill a short glass with ice. Add one shot Campari. Add one shot vermouth. Fill glass to the top with club soda. Drink.   -Chris

(This is the first post in a Campari series. I have no idea how long the series will run, but it’s going to be at least three posts. I can see the series stretching out into summer and taking a wild turn into punches and popsicles. We’ll see!)

An Americano cocktail of Campari, vermouth, and club soda

An Americano Cocktail with an orange wedge for garnish


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