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Mar 22, 2006 12:20 PM

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?


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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.


      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 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.

                5 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)

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        I had a non-alcoholic N/A-Groni at Gramercy Tavern today. They made it with Sanbitter, club soda, and a candied grapefruit sliver... over little balls of crushed ice. It was INSANELY good. You can get Sanbitter on

                      2. re: bibi rose

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