Campari is an Italian aperitif that can be used in a wide variety of drinks, from a simple Campari and soda to the classic Negroni and Boulevardier.
It’s a hugely popular drink and for good reason: it’s flavor is nuanced, herby and pleasantly bitter. Not to mention its stunning bright red jewel-toned color which looks great in any setting.
It’s a drink that stimulates the palate, with a bitter, fruity and spicy taste all at the same time. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that Campari is used in a large number of delicious-tasting cocktails.
If you’re looking for inspiration to use up your bottle of Campari then look no further.
In this guide, I’ll take a look at seven of the best Campari cocktails to try, ranging from some of the classics to a couple of the more modern twists.
The first Campari cocktail you need to try is the popular Boulevardier. This easy three-ingredient drink is made from Campari, sweet vermouth and whiskey. Essentially, it’s a Negroni, but made with whiskey instead of gin.
The drink itself is smooth, rich and spicy all at once. The bitter flavor of the Campari is perfectly balanced by the warm sweetness of the whiskey, making the Boulevardier extremely pleasant on the palate.
Taste aside, this drink is also stunning on the eye. It’s vibrant red color is classy and well-suited to sophisticated events and dinner parties.
How to make a Boulevardier
As mentioned above, the Boulevardier is an easy to make three-ingredient cocktail. It’s also a classic stirred drink – so you don’t even need to own a fancy cocktail shaker!
Firstly, pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass with a handful of ice and give them a stir for around half a minute. This not only chills the cocktail, but dilutes it far less than shaking the ingredients in a cocktail shaker would.
Then, strain and serve the drink into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass with a fair helping of ice.
It’s also recommended to squeeze a 1” wide strip of orange peel into the drink, gently run it around the edge of the glass, and then place it in the glass afterwards as a garnish.
2. Classic Negroni
The classic Negroni is a traditional Italian cocktail with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. The taste of the drink is often described as being refreshing, bitter and complex – so it’s definitely one to be savored.
The Negroni is a sophisticated and somewhat complex cocktail that’s also refreshing and summery. This versatility lends itself to being a popular drink for a wide range of different settings such as dinner parties, happy hours, and late night drinks.
Just like the Boulevardier, the Negroni has a stunning bright red color, so quite the statement of a drink.
How to make a classic Negroni
One of the easiest cocktails to remember, the Negroni has equal amounts (1 ounce) of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari.
It’s a drink that’s best stirred rather than shaken, so all you’ll need is a cocktail mixing glass, or any other glass you have on hand.
Firstly, add the ingredients to a glass with a single handful of ice and stir for around half a minute.
Then, strain and serve the cocktail into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass filled up with ice. As with the Boulevardier, you can also add an orange peel as a garnish to your drink.
3. Campari Spritz
Significantly lighter and more refreshing than the previous two Campari cocktails, the Campari Spritz is a bitter and bubbly drink which mixes Campari with sparkling wine and soda water.
While this cocktail is lighter than the Boulevardier and Negroni, it still provides a strong bittersweet taste of Campari.
So, if you’re not a fan of this bitter flavor, the close relative of the Campari Spritz, the Aperol Spritz, may be a better option.
How to make a Campari Spritz
As mentioned above, the three ingredients of a Campari Spritz are sparkling wine (usually either Prosecco or champagne), soda water, and of course, Campari.
It’s worth noting here that tonic water shouldn’t be used as a replacement for soda water – it really doesn’t work with this drink.
To start, stir the Campari in a glass with a handful of ice to make the aperitif cold. Once you’ve done this, top the glass with the sparkling wine before adding the soda water and stir again. It’s as simple as that!
If you want to garnish the cocktail, the most popular method is to squeeze in juice from a lemon wedge and add to the drink.
4. Jungle Bird
One of the more unique Campari cocktails, the Jungle Bird is both fruity and complex in taste. It’s one of the few rum cocktails to pair tropical flavors with the popular Italian aperitif, and the end result is a great-tasting drink.
The Jungle Bird’s main ingredients are dark rum, pineapple juice, Campari, lime juice and simple syrup.
The intriguing and complex flavor of the drink stems from the bitterness of the Campari which perfectly offsets the sweet pineapple juice. It’s a cocktail that satisfies all palates: sweet, fruity, tart and bitter.
How to make a Jungle Bird
Once you’ve got all the ingredients, putting together a Jungle Bird is relatively simple.
Firstly, place all the ingredients (mentioned above) into a cocktail shaker with some ice and shake vigorously until cold.
Then, strain the cocktail into a glass, usually a lowball one, and garnish with a pineapple wedge. You can also add pineapple leaves to your drink as a creative garnish, evocative of bird feathers.
5. Campari Clementine Fizz
While this particular Campari-based cocktail isn’t as popular as the others on this list, it’s equally worthwhile trying. It’s a simple three-ingredient drink that’s packed full of flavor and perfect for festive parties.
The main ingredients of this cocktail are juiced clementines, Prosecco, Campari, lemon juice and caster sugar. If you don’t have access to a juicer at home, shop-bought clementine juice is absolutely fine for this drink.
How to make a Campari Clementine Fizz
Firstly, mix together the clementine and lemon juice with some caster sugar in a pan.
Bring to a simmer, allowing the sugar to dissolve, and then increase the heat for around five minutes until the liquid is syrupy. Leave to cool, then chill.
To serve, pour a little of the chilled clementine syrup into a glass, usually a champagne flute for this cocktail. Then add a measure of Campari and top up with chilled Prosecco. Give the drink a stir and enjoy.
One of the best ways to use your Campari is to make the Siesta cocktail. This is a luxurious modern drink that pairs tequila, Campari and fresh citrus juice.
The ingredients may be an unexpected combination of flavors, but the final taste of this cocktail is balanced and refreshing.
The Siesta has a sweet tart body and a hint of bitter on the finish, making it a deliciously intriguing drink which has developed into a modern classic.
How to make a Siesta
The Siesta is another straightforward cocktail to put together. Once you’ve compiled the ingredients, you’ll just need a cocktail shaker.
Firstly, pour the tequila, Campari, lime juice, grapefruit juice and simple syrup into your cocktail shaker with a couple of handfuls of ice and shake until cold.
Note here, if you don’t have a cocktail shaker, a mason jar with a cover can be used instead.
Then, strain the drink into a cocktail glass and add a garnish. The most popular choice of garnish for this drink is a citrus wedge.
7. Negroni Sbagliato
This drink is a slight variation of the classic Negroni cocktail, using sparkling wine instead of gin. For many, the lightly sweet Prosecco combined with the bitter Campari and sweet vermouth makes for a better balanced flavor than the classic Negroni with gin.
Sbagliato translates to “mistaken” or “incorrect” in Italian, but this modern spin on the classic drink is an improvement in the eyes of many cocktail drinkers. It’s bitter, sweet, and bubbly all the same time, making it an instant success.
How to make a Negroni Sbagliato
Very similar to the classic Negroni, this cocktail is made with equal parts of sparkling wine, sweet vermouth and Campari. You won’t need a cocktail shaker as this drink is best stirred in a mixing glass.
Firstly, add the Campari and sweet vermouth into a mixing glass with a handful of ice and stir for 30 seconds until chilled. Then, strain into a lowball glass filled with ice and top up with sparkling wine. Garnish the cocktail with an orange peel and serve.
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