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Proper method for enjoying Sanbitter- San Pellegrino's Apertif Soda

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I'm a big fan of Italian bitter sodas like Chinotto and Limonata, but I can't figure out Sanbitter. It's bright red and comes in a charming little bottle- and it's powerfully bitter. So much so, that I wonder if it's meant as a mixer for cocktails.

Does anyone know if you're supposed to drink Sanbitter straight? If not, then what sort of concoctions work well with it?

Link: http://www.editorandpunisher.com

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  1. Sounds to me like a non-alky knockoff of Campari and soda, one of my favorite refreshers. I haven't seen it out here - maybe they're trying it in the East first. If Campari is what they're emulating I can't imagine what else it'd go with; Campari's range is pretty much either straight up on the rocks or diluted on the rocks...I think I have heard of a concoction involving orange juice...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      A.G. Ferrari in the Bay Area had red Sanbitter a couple years ago. Check your local Italian grocer. It's powerfully bitter, much more so than Chinotto- tolerable in a cocktail but less so (last I tried it) in a soda.

      1. re: Will Owen

        Nope, not new. It was introduced in 1960. I remember drinking it in the 90's. Yes, you do drink it like Campari. I liked it in lemon-flavored sparkling water. A little will go a long way.

        That bottle is cute as all get-out. I used them for tiny flowers.

        One of the first drinks I tried when I could legally drink was Campari. I was at the restaurant at the skating rink at Rockefeller Center and other people were ordering it and I wanted to look cool and ordered it on the rocks. The bitterness was appaling at that time and what made it worse was the ice cubes kept melting and there was more and more of it to drink. Never had it since, but I did like the sanbitter once I grew up.

        Link: http://www.nestle-watersna.com/Menu/O...

      2. Will's right, red Sanbitter is marketed as a non-alcoholic apertif, essentially a substitute for Campari, usually served over ice and possibly extra soda, maybe a lime or lemon (twist or slice or wedge), or with orange juice (although I don't much care for that combo). Also found a recipe reference to a "Vento fizz" with Sanbitter, orange juice, diced canned peaches (!), and soda.

        At the website (sanbitter.it) Sanbitter appears to come in other flavors (clear and gold colors), but I am not sure what they are.

        1. In Italy they are typically served poured from the bottle into a small glass, with an ice cube or two. No need to add soda, it's already pre-mixed. There are many competitors, such as Crodino, and Campari, which markets an alcohol free Campari/soda product in the same format. My favorite is one called Aperol, which I encountered in Verona. There, it is often mixed with white wine and served on the rocks. It's not available in the US, so I do the same with Campari - it's a great aperitivo, but you must use a rather innocuous white, Pinot Grigio for instance. CA Chardonnay, sweet and oaky, won't work

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sam B

            Yes! Three cheers for Aperol! Every time I go to Italy, it's all I want to drink. Straight from the bottle, on the rocks, the perfect afternoon pick-me-up...

            I heard it's illegal in the U.S. because of its artificial coloring. Strange, because artificial coloring is practically a food group of its own here.

            1. re: Sam B

              This is an old thread, but Aperol is definitely available in the US. I have a bottle on my shelf that I bought at an ordinary corner liquor store in DC a few weeks ago.

            2. I'll stick with Campari for an aperitif with soda water and twist of lime or in a Negroni, my current fave cocktail. I like San Bitter as a digestif. It's just the thing to settle the stomach after eating a rich meal.

              1. Love the stuff.

                I just drink it over ice.

                That small bottle will fill a tall glass filled with ice.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mar52

                  One of my favorite things to mix Campari with is San Pellegrino Aranciata Amara. (Got to be amara.) I look forward to trying that with Sanbitter for a nonalcoholic drink.

                  Sanbitter with selzer also sounds like a good solution for those people who ask about nonalcoholic dinner accompaniments.

                  1. re: bibi rose

                    > Sanbitter with selzer also sounds like a good solution for those people who ask about nonalcoholic dinner accompaniments.

                    I'm one of those people! I'm on a hunt for Sanbitter in my town, because it sounds great.

                    Even better would be if I could find some Aranciata Amara, too. But we're hicksville, as far as good Italian grocery stores are concerned, so I'm not holding my breath. (In the meantime, a local grocery currently has organic Italian blood orange juice, which would probably make an OK substitute.)


                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      You might want to try John's Farm on old country road in plainview for sanbitter (I think they sell the small bottles by the case)

                    2. re: bibi rose

                      I've yet been unable to find this product in the US?

                  2. I haven't tried this because I assumed it was just bitters and carbonated
                    water, a mixture which I make myself using bitters and carbonated water.
                    Is it different?

                    If it is the same, then the proper way to drink it is "frequently". Expecially
                    as a low-sweet, low-alcoholic, after-dinner burp-inducer.

                    Bitters (either the generic angostura, or something more interesting like
                    Unicum or Fernet or Jagermeister or ...) in selzer is second only to bitters
                    in ginger ale in my book of deliciousnesses.

                    1. Over ice with a lemon slice. It is similar to Compari with a little soda. A non alcoholic version of Compari is available in Italy and I recently sampled it so my comparison is fresh.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: villagepope

                        Two years ago I had a Sanbitter in the South Market area of Philadelphia. It was a light yellow color, as if it were a white grapefruit color and, as I recall, flavor. It was heavenly. I've had the red Sanbitter and was not nearly as impressed as I was with the citrus one. But it appears they're not even making that one any more. The Sanbitter gold looks too intensely gold, the dry looks colorless. Does anyone have any idea what it was that I drank on my first try with Sanbitter?

                      2. I used to purchase a bitters soda imported from Italy under the Whole Foods label and loved it. Unfortunately, Whole Foods discontinued it from the line. I recently purchased some Sanbitter from Eagle Rock Bakery & Deli. Its not that it is too bitter but it just tastes like cough medicine. Any more mixed drink ideas?

                        1. I was told to drink it straight. My SO and I tried it and he drank a little and threw the rest away. Not for us I'm afraid.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: melpy

                            That is why I am asking for additional suggestions. I added some gin and it just made it worse. I know I can cut it with soda but what else can I use that will compliment the tase?

                            1. re: Fru

                              If you didn't like the taste, nothing will really work with it for you. It certainly is acquired.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                I never considered that. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                1. re: Fru

                                  I love the flavor, but there's just no way to mask that taste. ;)

                          2. True - it does taste like carbonated cough syrup. So there's no logic behind why I like it so much. I think you have to like the taste of Campari to like it. I drink it straight or diluted with seltzer and lime, on the rocks. Can go thru a mini-ten-pack in no time. You can buy it at Bay Cities Deli in Sa Mo, although last week they were out of it. Waaaah!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: 6300

                              Like I said, I love the taste of bitters...anyway, I bought this at Eagle Rock Deli. Even the guys behind the counter professed to never having tasted it so they were of no help. I'm going to try the seltzer and lime, lots of lime. Thanks!

                              1. re: Fru

                                Reading back the thread and realized I wasn't particularly helpful.

                                OJ is great with Campari, which, to me, has a similar flavor, so I bet it would work well with the San Bitter, too. Maybe some sweet vermouth and OJ for a low-alcohol cocktail? Sounds yum to me.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  It takes a big person:) Thank you for the suggestion! I'll report back!

                            2. I actually really love Sanbitter -- I've typically been drinking it straight from the cooled bottle (the bottles are great to keep, I've seen Flora using one at their bar with a stopper for simple syrup or some tincture... I get mine typically from the little cafe in Union Square in SF (EMPORIO RULLI'S IL CAFFE)... but I am totally addicted to bitter drinks these days... I bet it would be even better over ice, I enjoy my Chinotto soda that way. Would be interested in markets where I can buy a whole pack.

                              1. I adore this stuff. I have it chilled. I have it at room temperature. In a glass, out of the bottle, with ice, straight up, as a mixer. If my stomach is upset, this stuff is comforting and I'm not beyond throwing in a couple of drops of grapefruit seed extract to kick up the bitter.

                                My favorite local Italian market doesn't seem to be carrying it anymore, which FREAKS ME OUT!!!

                                1. Hi, I'm from Rome, Italy. I have an italian bar (coffee and spirits). Maybe Sanbitter Rosso is the most famous analcoolical bitter outside Italy, but here analcoolical aperitif means "Crodino" the blond bitter. It can be mixed with Biancosarti, it's a cocktail called "Tandem" but it's not very common.
                                  Aperol is usually mixed with Prosecco and Soda, it's a predinner cocktail called "Spritz", a real after 6pm must in Italy!