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Mar 23, 2012 06:40 PM

Will I hate campari?

I mainly drink irish whiskey and IPA beers, but after reading posts here and seeing a lot of love for it, I'm particularly interested in Campari. As someone wih a fairly undeveloped palate, not being used to bitter liquors, am I likely to hate it upfront? The only size bottle I've seen at my local stores is the 750 ml and I don't want it to take me so long to learn to enjoy it that the bottle spoils. Any beginner friendly suggestions for mixed drinks?

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  1. How will you ever develop your palate if you don't introduce it to new things?

    I'd say the easiest approach to Campari is the classic Campari Orange—just a shot of Campari in orange juice and club soda or seltzer water. I started drinking it mixed with white grapefruit juice eons ago and loved it right out of the gate.

    15 Replies
    1. re: RelishPDX

      Me, too -- it was suggested by a waitress on a hot, sunny day in Germany (yes, those exist) -- didn't have soda, just oj and Campari, and I fell head over heels and drank it as a cocktail for the rest of that trip. (and have had a bottle of Campari in the cupboard ever since)

      I love the sweet-bitter-orangey-grapefruit flavor, and it's very refreshing on a warm day.

      1. re: sunshine842

        Sunshine, (or anyone else) -
        Have you ever tried the Italian soda - Chinotto?

        It's a soda that (to me) has the exact same taste as Campari!
        It is absolutely delicious.

        San Pellegrino makes it, and you can find it in most Italian delis - I highly recommend it!

        1. re: NellyNel

          Hmm - thanks for that -- an Italian deli just opened near me - I'll have to look for it.

          1. re: NellyNel

            I love the SP chinotto, which is a like a less sweet, more bitter version of the Brio that my family always got on pizza night growing up. But I've also from my local Italian grocer tried a pink soda actually called "sanbitter" that is even MORE like campari. Didn't like it :)
            Found this thread:

            1. re: julesrules

              I love the tiny 3.4 oz bottles of Sanbitter. Great when you want to awaken your palate and perk up your appetite.

            2. re: NellyNel

              If you like chinotto, you owe it to yourself to try to find a bottle of Lurisia's Chinotto. It's a small producer that uses the real fruit to make the soda. The flavor is incredible.


              1. re: Josh

                Thank you both!!

                I will have to try both, the sanbitter and the Lurisa's.

                Very interesting stuff!
                Thanks again!

              2. re: NellyNel

                Chinotto is moderately bitter, brown, and orange-flavored. Sanbitter is very bitter, bright red, Campari-flavored, and comes in a tiny bottle. The flavor is more floral than Campari.

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                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  Yes, Chinotto is bitter orange - but does it not taste like Campari?
                  Or maybe because I haven't had Campari straight - only with orange juice - it tastes like that to me?
                  So maybe Chinotto tastes like Campari and oj....not Campari itself...

                  1. re: NellyNel

                    Dunno. I don't drink Campari with orange juice, but I would not characterize Campari as having an orange flavor on its own, even though it is "thought to contain Chinotto, a bitter, citrus fruit brought to Italy from China".


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                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      Thanks for the reply, and links. Cool.

                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        Campari is definitely known for its bitter orange qualities.

                      2. re: NellyNel

                        I don't personally think that chinotto sodas taste like campari (other than the obvious bittersweet profile) but I have different taste associations due to growing up drinking Brio on pizza night. I think if you do try sanbitter you will notice it REALLY tastes like campari.

                        1. re: julesrules

                          oh, ok...maybe..

                          I have always seen those cute little red bottles and have been curious, but for some odd reason, I never tried it..(very unlike me actually, as I must try EVERYTHING!) but I will make it a point to pick some up.


              3. IPA beers are quite bitter. Do you like the bitterness of a gin-and-tonic with lime?

                I suggest you try a small amount of Campari and a large amount of soda water, with a lot of lime. The acid in the lime moderates the bitterness of the Campari. Add gin if you'd like.

                Relish's idea of white grapefruit juice is good too. The white variety is more sour than the pink/ruby varieties, generally.

                Campari doesn't really go bad -- you could have a bottle for many years. It took me a long time to like it, but now I use more Campari than any other single bottle in my bar. Alternatively, order it out at a restaurant or bar.

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                1 Reply
                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  I can vouch for Campari not going bad. Last year I had drinks at a colleague's house, and poured from the bottle of Campari he'd put out. He said he was glad someone was finally drinking it, he'd bought it in a duty free shop at Amsterdam airport in 1992! It tasted just fine.

                2. I took the plunge several years ago, and bought a bottle. I hated it the first couple times I tried it, but was intrigued by the strong, complex flavors. The third time I tried it, I started to appreciate it. Over time, I began to appreciate it more and more, until now I enjoy it in a variety of drinks, including Negronis, Campari and Tonic, and the above-mentioned ones. Over time, I have begun to dislike overly sweet tastes and be more and more attracted to bitter, herbal flavors in food and drink. Campari may be partly responsible for that. If it's not a budget issue, I say take the plunge, buy a bottle, and live with it for at least 9 months before you dismiss Campari. It took me a year to be able to honestly say I love the stuff.

                  1. Try an Americano (Campari + sweet vermouth + soda) at a bar before you buy a full bottle. It's really refreshing, especially when it's warm outside, and the vermouth balances the bitterness of the liqueur. I loooove Campari, but it's very distinctive, so definitely try before you buy. If you like the Americano, go one step up and try a Negroni (Campari + sweet vermouth + gin). It is my favorite cocktail on earth, and IMO the best way to drink Campari.

                    Also, if you like the flavor but it seems just a bit too harsh, try Aperol - it's very similar but has a lower alcohol content and tastes a bit milder.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kathleen440

                      Aperol has a much more pronounced orange peel flavor.

                    2. Sorry to dredge up an old thread, but I wanted to report back- I just bought a bottle of Campari and it tastes like poison. It smells pretty nice, but one sip and the bitterness just sticks in my mouth- far more bitter than anything else I've ever tried. I haven't tried it mixed yet- far too early to mix up a full drink- I just took a tiny sip straight. I'll give it a try in juice and with soda/lime later on. I'm sure I'll learn to like it eventually, and I'm definitely not surprised it wasn't love at first taste, just wanted to give an update and thank everyone for their help!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: CJB12

                        Yeah I have a bottle that I've had for about.... 10 years? Mostly untouched.
                        I bought it due to memories of a great grapefruit/campari sorbet I had on a trip to NYC in the 90s but then found it overwhelming. And I find grapefruit juice too acidic to drink much of.
                        Thanks to this thread, maybe I will some of these ideas a whirl, knowing it can actually keep that long. Maybe with grapefruit soda, the base for my favourite cocktail, the paloma (with tequila).

                        1. re: julesrules

                          If you live near a Trader Joes, they have some really nice Italian Sodas. They have a blood orange one that I like, but I believe they also have grapefruit. One of those might be worth a try, although I'm not sure how acidic they are.

                          1. re: CJB12

                            No Trader Joes here in Canada but I have a few options for grapefruit soda. There's Ting, and seasonally President's Choice (local store brand... some US distribution I think) makes a good one... or at least I am hoping it comes back this summer :) Oh and I notice that San Pelligrino is distributing grapefruit flavour here now. I love grapefruit soda.

                            1. re: julesrules

                              PC have a good blood orange pop as well that might work.

                            2. re: CJB12

                              I bought a bottle of Campari to try Negronis which were ok, Americanos not so much but I really like Boulevardiers. Blood Orange Italian soda with an orange wedge or twist is excellent with Campari. Add a shot of gin if you want to amp it up.

                              1. re: CJB12

                                +1, I am loving Campari mixed with Trader Joes grapefruit soda.

                            3. re: CJB12

                              I love Campari, but you need to make a drink with it.

                              In Venice we were introduced to a drink called a Campari spritz.

                              1.5 oz Campari
                              1.5 oz sparkling or white wine
                              1 oz orange juice

                              Mix all the above over ice and top off with soda water.

                              1. re: CJB12

                                eww -- no, I wouldn't drink it straight -- it really needs to be with something else.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Drinking it on the rocks may be the end point on the path of learning to love Campari, but it certainly isn't the starting point!

                                  I love it every way, including on the rocks (although it is pretty sweet without some lemon or lime).

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