Viva l’Italia! Viva Campari!

Classic Collection, Page 86, 10404106, Frascati, Italy, 23rd November 1957, Two men sit at a table, one with his head slumped on the table and the other practically asleep, with two empty bottles of wine in front of them

According to the Campari people, the Italian aperitif was invented in 1860 and they still use the same recipe today. It is bone dry, very bitter, with a spicy funk. In a word, it is delicious. It is also an acquired taste and not everyone will take to it. However, there is a way to introduce you to it incrementally which will ease the shock to the senses. Once you are acclimated, it will prove to be one of the most interesting ingredients in your liquor cabinet.

The Jasmine Cocktail was the brainchild of bartender and author, Paul Harrington.

1 ½ oz Gin

¼ oz Cointreau

¼ oz Campari

¾ oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

This cocktail has a sour/bitter taste not unlike grapefruit juice and is a nice introduction to Campari. If you hate grapefruit juice, skip to the next cocktail.

Welcome to France, circa 1928. Lucien Gaudin won a total of four gold medals and two silver in fencing during the 1920, 1924, and 1928 Olympics. If anyone deserves to have a drink named after him, it’s Monsieur Gaudin. It’s interesting that this cocktail contains Campari. The French team lost to the Italians in 1920. Perhaps it is a respectful nod to a gracious adversary. Gaudin beat the Italian, Giulio Gaudini, for the gold medal in foil in 1928. 

Lucien Lucien-Gaudin-1Gaudin

1 oz Gin

½ oz Cointreau

½ oz Campari

½ oz Dry Vermouth

Stir with ice until cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Now, it is off to Italy where Campari was born! 

The Negroni was invented in Florence, Italy, sometime in the 1920s by a Count Camillo Negroni who wanted to spice up his Americano, a popular aperitif of sweet vermouth and Campari. Or was it?  Well, that’s the story, anyway. We’ll probably never know and, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. It’s simply a great drink. 

Negroni

1 oz Campari

1 oz Gin

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a well chilled cocktail glass or over ice in a rocks glass.  Garnish as the Italians do with a thin slice of orange. 

For those who want something on the lighter side, try Aperol which is similar to Campari but not as strong. One of the signature drinks in Italy is the Aperol Spritz (3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, topped with soda). Every café, restaurant, and bar makes them. They are light, refreshing, and very much the thing in Italy before supper. 

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