Cocktail Hour: Campari

After our recent trip to California, I’ve had Campari on the brain.

We had only one meal in San Francisco proper.  It was at a place called Jasper’s with an extensive cocktail menu and reportedly the only bar in the city with Negroni on drought.  But…what the hell is a Negroni?  I was intrigued.

So after some quick research, I learned that a Negroni is one part gin, one part Campari, and one part sweet vermouth.    Campari is an Italian bitters apéritif, known for it’s bright red color.

When I got to the liquor store to buy this magical red bitters, I was a little upset with the price.  It’s $30 per bottle.  A bit high.  And there’s really no other substitute since it’s pretty unique.  So just bite the bullet and buy a bottle.  It’ll make you classy.

I tried the classic Negoni first.  Just poured the three elements over ice.

(Note the sweet Ardmore rocks glass from Groovy Green Glass.)

It was good.  Despite the candy-like color, it’s not very sweet at all.  It has a more herbal sort of taste.  My hater husband said “eww…medicinal.”

I did like it, but since I drink mostly beer and wine, it was a little strong for my taste.   You know, being 100% alcohol, and all.

So I hit up Campari.com to see what else I could make with this stuff.  I found that one of the other classic Campari cocktails is the Americano, essentially a Negroni with soda instead of the gin.  So I picked up a bottle club soda and gave it a whirl.

Looks nearly identical in the glass, but it’s much more drinkable for me.  I love these things now.  It’s the perfect pre-dinner drink.  It makes me feel fancy, even if I’m sitting on the stoop in cutoff jeans.

(Note the sweet Tennessee coasters from Swanky Designs.)

Incidentally, this little discovery has coincided with my work life.

I don’t talk about work very much on this blog, but I produce sweepstakes and other advertising products for FoodNetwork.com and Food.com.  This Monday we launched a fancy new custom sweeps on Food.com, Show Us Your French Cocktail Hour Photo Contest.

Although Campari is firmly Italian in origin, my experiments with the Negroni and Americano remind me very much of the classic French l’apéritif.  They’re festive cocktails that are light and unique, and they both work well with light appetizers like cheese and dips because they’re not overly sweet.

Since I’m very much ineligible to win this contest, I urge you to have a go at your own French Cocktail Hour.  Take a nice picture, and you could win a fabulous prize!  Or at least just use it as an excuse to drink wine and take pictures.

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One thought on “Cocktail Hour: Campari

  1. Cool! I had to buy Galliano recently for a cake I was making and was also appalled at the price – something like $26, but I know that bottle will be kicking around my house for a while. And my dad told me about a drink he used to make with it back in his drinking days, so I can try that. Maybe next will be Campari.
    And I will check out that contest – Glad I have about a month to figure it out and take some pics!

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