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Dec 27, 2009 07:42 AM

Campari (and relatives) anyone?

New to this board. I've read some of the thread and recipes using Campari. I thought I'd start a thread focusing on interesting uses for this most interesting liquor. My grandparents and parents drank it, but it took until my middle years for me to start enjoying bitter things. I started with very weak Campari & Soda. So, what are you drinking that includes Campari? Here are some of mine drinks that I have created. Some may be classics or variations on Classics.

Simple Campari & Soda with Lime. Strength / amount of soda (or I actually prefer seltzer) is subjective. I like them pretty strong -- maybe two splashes of soda. Often disappointing at a bar where an ounce of Campari is diluted with in a highball glass with a ton of soda. I prefer it with a big squeezed wedge of lime, rather than the classic orange. I think it needs the acid to balance the bitter. This is my favorite summer drink, especially I don't want much alcohol. If I want something interesting to drink in the middle of the day, I sometimes flavor a big glass of selzer with a little Campari. It's not a cocktail, but rather more flavored seltzer.

Campari, Aperol & Soda with Lime. 1:1 Campari & Aperol, with lots of lime (up to half a lime), seltzer/soda to taste. Obviously somewhat sweeter because of the sugar in the Aperol. Somehow the hideous "orange soda" taste of the straight Aperol combines with the Campari to create a delightful bitter grapefruit flavor. Very strange synergy, but very good. A good Campari drink for those just getting into it.

Campari, Aperol & Gin with Lime. 1:1:1 with half a lime. Delicious and bright. If a bit too sweet, cut back on the Aperol a bit. Similar in design to a Negroni, but completely different in flavor.

Gin and "Tonic", where the tonic comes from Campari and seltzer, rather than tonic water. Very good and light. Like G&T's, can go down a bit too easily on a hot summer afternoon. This was actually a drink that my brother and I "invented" (I'm sure it's been "invented" by zillions of other people) while stranded by the 9/11 tragedy. We were being hosted by a major car manufacturer, and were stuck away from home. The manufacturer put us up and served us cocktails from nips. They had Campari in nips. They had gin nips. Free Campari. Free Gin. Lightbulb.

Negroni. A worthy classic, but actually not my favorite Campari drink.

Grapefruit sorbet with Campari. I can find local Sorbet with Campari already in it, but it's pretty wimpy. Dump a pint of sorbet in the food processor, add Campari by bits -- maybe 1/4 cup to start, process, taste, adjust, and refreeze. I refroze it in small glasses (maybe 2-3 oz) and served it with dark chocolate and a cookie for dessert. Oooh, a plain biscotti (not almond) would be great with it.

Cynar & seltzer. Similar in concept. I just had it at a bar with Lime so I just bought a bottle, but haven't started experimenting with it.

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  1. You like Campari, Aperol & Cynar, you should try 'Punt e Mes,' another Italian apertif with a bitter taste. I usually just drink it with soda and a twist, which is how I usually drink Campari.

    15 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      Have a bottle. It is slightly bitter, with a strong sweet vermouth flavor. I will try it with some seltzer next time I'm in the mood for something light on the alcohol.

      But, now that you mention it, it should make an excellent Manhattan. Maybe I'll try that tonight!

      And, I will admit that I have my limits. I bought a bottle of Fernet Branca. Reminds me of cough syrup poured into an ashtray that a Newport Light smoker has been using. I tried everything, except the classic with a soft drink (cola, was it?). There's no alcohol that's worth me being forced to mix with soft drinks.

      I've got a bottle of Ramazzotti sitting there. I will (very rarely) "enjoy" a bit after a dinner, but it's pretty hard to like straight. Any cocktail suggestions?

      1. re: EvergreenDan

        Punt e Mes has a sweet vermouth flavor because that's exactly what it is... a very bitter one :-) I like it in a Manhattan as long as I'm using a whiskey strong enough to stand up to it. Love it in a Negroni--double the bitter fun!

        Personally, I like sipping both Ramazzotti and Fernet, but they both definitely "acquired" tastes, especially the latter. Both are interesting mixers, too. My favorite Fernet cocktail for non-Fernet lovers is the Porteno... give it a try and let me know if it doesn't change your mind:

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          For the rammazotti I would suggest a rendition of a drink called the Hoskins that I came up with. its 2oz tequila blanco, 1/2oz ramazzotti, 1/2oz cointreau, 3/4oz maraschino, 3 dash orange bitters, orange twist

          For the campari there is a drink called the Right Hand that I like 2oz aged rum, 3/4oz carpano antica, 3/4oz campari, 2 dash mole bitters

          another cool one is the Paper Airplane which is 1oz bourbon, 1oz rammazotti, 1oz campari, and 1oz lemon juice

          for the fernet try a Root of All Evil which is 2oz bourbon, 3/4oz grand marnier, 1/2oz fernet, 1/2oz maraschino, 2 dash orange bitters and orange twist

          one that I have been working on that I don't have a name for. 1oz rye whiskey, 1/2 oz fernet, 3/4 oz chartreuse, 1/2oz cointreau, 1/2oz ramazzotti, dash mole bitters, 2 dash orange bitters, lemon twist

          1. re: pb n foie

            Cool, will try some of those. I just went through my notes and found one I came up with a while ago that applies quite well to this thread:

            1 1/2 oz Lairds Bonded
            1/2oz Campari
            1/2oz Punt e Mes
            1/4oz Ramazzotti
            1/4oz Creole Shrubb (or other curacao)
            2 d Fees Barrel Aged

            Stir, strain. (Haven't yet found a suitable garnish).

            1. re: pb n foie

              The original Paper Plane is 3/4oz. each of bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonnino, and lemon juice. I haven't tried it with Campari and Ramazzotti as substitutes -- could be interesting.

              Also of Campari note is the Right Hand's companion, the Left Hand, which subs in bourbon for the rum.

              1. re: pb n foie

                Today I had an interesting e-mail form Chuck Taggart, the creator of The Hoskins Cocktail. I had posted pb n foie's variation above. After discussing it with Chuck, I changed the variation's name to The Mexican Hoskins Cocktail. It might be best, however, to give it its own name. If pb n foie would like to rename it, I'd be delighted to update it.
                The cocktail in question:

              2. re: davis_sq_pro

                Just bought Ramazzotti for the first time today after having Aperol and Campari cocktails at my disposal. Oh goodness. There are no words. I am in love with Ramazzotti. Aperol is definitely too sweet (nice once in a while but after a few occasions it became garish) and Campari is nice, but I'd have to say my heart is with Ramazzotti. With a squeeze of lemon on the rocks. WOW.

                1. re: isadorasmama

                  Try a Paper Airplane: equal parts Bourbon, Campari, Ramazzotti, and lemon. On of my favorite drinks ever. It is a variant of a Paper Plane, which uses Aperol and Nonino.

                  www.kindredcocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    This had been on my list for a while. Just got around to making one.

                    Definitely one of my favorites. The balance is spot-on. I used WT101 so it wouldn't get lost amongst its glassmates. I liked it. Many thanks for introducing me to this wonder.

                  2. re: isadorasmama

                    If you're a ramazotti fan (as am I), try some amer picon sometime. Not currently distributed in the US but a few local bars have it (9 park, drink, green st iirc) or try to make it (craigie used to, no more). Jamie boudreau has a good recipe for it based on ramazotti.

                    1. re: isadorasmama

                      Battle of trafalgar cocktail comes to mind

                      1. re: barleywino

                        that sounds incredible. But I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to find Batavia Arrack in a 50 mile radius. Anything else similar I could use? I know it wouldn't be the same cocktail, but when in Rome...

                2. OK. Reporting back.

                  I tried Punt e Mes in a Manhattan made with Russel's 6 yr 1:2. Very good. I am actually new to rye, having made my Manhattans from bourbon for years. The large amount of vermouth adds the sweetness that the bourbon would have had. The bitterness of the Punt e Mes recedes into the background as a lingering aftertaste. Quite good.

                  I also tried the Hoskins's drink below, featuring the Ramazzotti. I didn't like it at all because the overwhelming spiciness of the amaro comes through along with sweetness. I added about 1/2 oz lime to balance both the sweet and bitter. I then liked the drink. Fun.

                  I also made my wife a Hemingway Daiquiri, but cut the Maraschino in half to 1/4 oz. She liked it, and I don't think she would have like it with the full allotment. The fresh grapefruit was very good in it.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    In the 1970s, I spent many happy summers in Spain sipping Americanos: build over ice 1 part Campari, 1 part sweet vermouth, 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters, top with club soda or seltzer, garish with orange or lime. (I'm not sure if the bitters were used in Spain; but I use them for this drink at home.) Campari and sodas always taste a bit flat to me; the Americano seems to have a bit more depth -- but of course as in all things, a matter of personal taste.

                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      I tried a taste-test tonight: 4 variations:
                      1 oz Campari with a bit of seltzer , and lime.
                      1/2 oz each Campari & Aperol with a bit of seltzer and lime
                      1/2 oz each Campari and Bossiere sweet vermouth, dash Angostura, bit of seltzer, orange garnish.
                      Same as above, but with Punt e Mes

                      Both my wife and I like liked very much the straight Campari.
                      We both likes the Aperol mixture, but only after adding quite a bit of lime -- about a half ounce. Otherwise it was too sweet.
                      Neither of us really like the Americano variations. We tried adding more seltzer and liked it more, but still liked the other two better. I guess we're just not Americanos. ;)

                      On an unrelated note, I made my wife a Daiquiri with Velvet Falernum (2:1 dark rum to Falernum), plus a healthy dose of lime. Liked it quite a bit. The spice in the Falernum adds some depth.

                      Lots more bitter things to try....

                    2. More tasting notes (should anyone care to comment or suggest anything...)
                      Tried an Old Pal (Rye, Dry Vermouth, Campari, 2:1:1, lemon twist), which I rather liked. I did think that the Campari overwhelmed the whiskey and wondered if something more like 4:1:1 so that the Rye would be about half the total volume would be better. More fun...)

                      And while it doesn't have Campari, it does have bitters. I had the stuff for a Sazerac (although I made it with the Russel's Rye that I had). I sort of don't understand the elaborate prep. The three dashes of bitters didn't wet the sugar cube much, so after "muddling" them, it was grainly sugar. The Rye only partly dissolved the sugar, leaving quite a bit in the bottom of the mixing glass. The Absinthe rinse was nice for the first few sips, but then the rinse was washed off the glass and I got very little licorice undertones after that. And the drink was full strength (since no ice was used) and only slightly chilled (since the glass was cold, but the liquids were room temperature. Did I make it right? Half way through I decided that it either needed to be room temp or cold, so I added a few slivers of ice, which I think helped. It was enjoyable, but not the revelation that I was hoping for. Maybe my rye wasn't good enough? I've just started with rye and have never had the Sazerac brand.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        My take on the Sazerac recipe is that you're supposed to soak the sugar cube. I use around six dashes of Peychaud's to achieve the desired effect. Which is not a big deal since Peychaud's is much less concentrated than Angostura--you won't overpower the drink. And you are supposed to stir with ice. Here's the procedure I use, which I believe is nothing more than a copy of what's listed on the Peychaud's bottle:

                        Glass #1: Rinse with absinthe or pastis. I like to leave a little pool--probably 1/4 teaspoon--when I'm done pouring it out. Otherwise there's not quite enough to stick around for the whole drink, as you noticed.

                        Glass #2: Soak the sugar cube with Peychaud's (or just use simple or--even better--gomme syrup, if you have it). Add ice and 2 oz of rye (Favorites for this drink: Russell's Reserve, Wild Turkey 101, Rittenhouse BIB, Michter's Rye. Not a big fan of the Sazerac 6, and although I love it I personally wouldn't use the Sazerac 18 in a cocktail.). Stir.

                        Strain the contents of Glass #2 into Glass #1. Squeeze a slice of lemon peel over the top of Glass #1 to express the oils. Do not drop it into the drink.

                        The official instructions also say to wipe the peel over the lip of the glass, but I didn't notice any difference with or without that part so I skip it. The step of squeezing the oils onto the surface of the drink, however, creates some sort of alchemical reaction and elevates the drink from pretty good into something truly amazing. Do not skip that part, whatever you do.

                        By the way, I've given a number of other liquors the "Sazerac treatment" and it tends to work quite nicely in many cases. I especially enjoy doing it with genever, which creates a really interesting twist on the flavor profile.

                      2. Continuing my Campari exploration, I made a Pagu Club. I was lacking the portions (which I have subsequently found), and used 2 pt Gin, 1 pt Cointreau, 1 pt lime, 2 dashes angostura. After tasting, I decided that it could easily accept more bitter, so I added just a bit of Campari, enough to tint it light pink. Delicious. I think next time I'll substitute orange bitters, or just omit the bitters and add more Campari.

                        I also made a Manhattan variation with rye, Lillet (white), and 4 dashes Fee Whiskey Bitters. Very, very good. Not sure if this is an existing cocktail or not.

                        1. I'm going to take back my slightly negative opinion of the Negroni. It's a fabulous drink.

                          I just returned from a vacation where it was very hard to get a passable cocktail at the bar. Scanning the bar's bottles, I thought to try a Negroni. Made with merely ok ingredients (Beefeater/Tanqueray, Martin&Rossi), it was very good (served on the rocks with a slice of orange rather than a twist). I preferred it after the ice melted a bit as the extra water mellows strong sweet vermouth component. I think alternatively, I could play with the proportions, increasing the gin or Campari. I definitely want to try a Perfect Negroni, perhaps with bitters to make up for the lost spiciness of the sweet vermouth.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            So you were in Mexico? I've always found that the resorts down there stock a lot of bitter booze. I think i single handledly killed a bottle of Campari and a bottle of Frenet Branca on my last vacation.

                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                              They didn't even have Angostura. I tried a splash of Campari in a Manhattan. Meh. I stopped short of trying to mix it with Tequila, although now that I think of it I bet you could do something interesting with a spicy amaro like Ramazzotti or Averna and tequila. Hmmm. Or Fernet and tequila. Now I'm scared.