Campari, probably the most famous bitter apéritif on the planet. The bright, blood-red, bitter drink can turn aperitivo hour into uncensored rituals for the great Dionysos himself and this without you even realising it. You might have started out in a sleepy Italian café, boiling under the burning afternoon sun, but you surely end up in an Italian fountain surrounded by 12 soaking wet, Italian goddesses, who sport such heavenly curves that you need a Ray Ban to protect you from the sizzling sunrays happily bouncing off them. And – of course – half the number of sunglassed fellows would be present, dressed in tailored suits, who take ‘taciturn’ to the next level, because if they would say “si” or anything else for that matter, 70% of all females in a radius of 200 yards, would faint. And Fellini would be watching, not smiling, but you know, happy.
That’s Campari for you, the Red Temptress. We killed bottles of it in Venice, Florence and Milan. It’s magic with soda, in Spritz, Negronis, Americanos and many more cocktails. It does something to you, fantastically represented in the famous Campari calendar.
And then out of nothing came the Campari Tonic. Well, to say the least, it puzzles me a bit. Why on earth would I want to add tonic to my Campari? Why would I want to add bitter to bitter? Frankly, I was very sceptical.
Is it because of the Gin & Tonic hype? Campari saw their apéritif throne threatened? Possibly, but then why does a great product like this submit to it. Why copy paste instead of claiming the kings of hot summer apéritif cocktails like Spritz or Negroni. Campari soda and an orange twist is sheer bliss, what more do you need? Campari is beautiful, why would you add tonic? It is majestical with prosecco, gin, vermouth, rum or even whiskey and bourbon. Why add bitter to bitter?
We tasted it and it is yummy, but that doesn’t stop it from making no sense at all. What’s more, when I add a well carbonised soda to my Campari I get more flavours then in a Campari and tonic. I have the feeling that the tonic even masks certain flavours of my Campari instead of altering or strengthening them. Well, that’s just my opinion, of course, “de gustibus…”.
We tasted it next to Campari soda, Spritz and Negroni. Spritz and Negroni won by far.
Don’t do what Cointreau did to the Cosmopolitan, leave the Red Temptress her dignity. I remember the first Spritz I ordered in my life, in Venice, and when I asked what was in it, Italian blood-red luscious lips whispered in my ear: “Campari”. And I smiled.