As a kid my father gave me two pieces of advice about drinking: the first and time honoured is the “don’t mix grape and grain” – which has certainly influenced my drinking over the years – the second is if you are under pressure from a client to drink at, say, a lunch meeting always chose a cocktail – the best being – Campari-Soda or Campari-Orange. The resulting concoction is actually very flavourful, “looks like a drink” and Campari is famous for its low alcohol content allowing you to continue functioning in the afternoon!
Depending on the country where you buy your bottle of Campari the alcohol content will vary from just over 20% to as high as 28.5% ABV. Its overwhelming taste is bitter and with its strong red colour this classic Italian aperitif is an infusion, in water, of herbs and fruits.
In 1860, Gaspard Campari – a master drinks maker – invented in 1860 in Novara (Italy). The recipe continues to be a secret known only to few who are involved in the production process – with alcohol and water the only known ingredients. Until 2006 the distinctive bright red colour was a dye, carmine, that was derived from crushed cochineal insects.
Campari’s first production in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan (Italy) was opened in 1904. Gaspard’s son, Davide, stimulated overseas exports and Campari brand is now distributed in over 190 countries. Today it is produced by the Alfredo Campari Group that is still based in Italy.
The very familiar bottle has graced many bar’s of world renown and Campari has become essential ingredients in cocktails including the Negroni – the original recipe – an iconic mix of Campari, gin and sweet red vermouth created by chance in Florence in 1919 by Count Camillo Negroni when he asked in error for gin instead of soda to be added to his Americano.
Each year since 2010 Campari has it special “Art label” collection featuring the work of contemporary artists who have linked the essence of Campari and the essential constituents as in the 2016 “There’s No Negroni without Campari” collection.
Images from Campari