And now a word from my in-house cocktail concocter husband Eric….
Campari, whether you love it or hate it (or love to hate it), is one of the great classic European aperitifs. Campari is bittersweet (agrodulce, in Italian) with a brilliant ruby red color and most well know as one of the ingredients in a Negroni, which includes gin and red vermouth. Campari is also served with soda or in the Americano Cocktail, which is basically a Negroni topped up with soda. A variation on these classic drinks is the Campari Cocktail, which pairs the aperitif with vodka and bitters.
Campari, with its strong, herbal flavor, pairs surprisingly well with the neutral, tasteless vodka. A dash of bitters—Angostura, or my favorite Peychaud, kicks up the bitterness of the drink. For non-gin drinkers—or vodka aficionados—this is a great way to savor the great taste of Campari.
If, like so many, you do not think that you like the bittersweet taste of Campari, consider this: Campari is an acquired taste and this just might be a way to acquire it! The first one may be a challenge. The second one, less so. By the time you get to your third (or fourth or fifth), you will be longing for the Via Condotti and la dolce—or in this case agrodolce—vita!
Campari Cocktail, or how to live La Dolce Vita
1 oz Campari
3/4 oz vodka
1 dash Angostura or Peychaud bitters
Lemon twist for garnish
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well.Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.