Words by: Simon Difford
There are numerous Italian bright crimson-coloured bittersweet apéritif liqueurs, but Campari is the best-known internationally. Typically, 20% to 28% alc./vol, they are flavoured with an infusion of herbs and fruits (including chinotto, cascarilla and grapefruit) in beet neutral alcohol and water.
The brilliant red colour that typifies these liqueurs was originally due to the use of carmine dye, derived from crushed cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) beetles, but most brands (including Campari) now use alternative colourings.
Released in February 2016, Peychaud’s Aperitivo borrows its name, and indeed red hue, from Peychaud’s Bitters, originally produced by New Orleans apothecary, Antoine Amedie Peychaud in the mid-1800s. Zesty orange and grapefruit with underlying herbal notes.
This wine-based aperitif is flavoured with woodworm, sweet and bitter oranges, cinnamon, sandalwood, cloves, nutmeg and china bark. Quinine, gentian and herbaceous notes with cherry, raspberry, grapefruit and vanilla shortcake. Faint note of hairspray.
Gran Classico Bitter is a modern day recreation of a 1860s bitter apéritif liqueur originally produced in Turin, Italy called Torino Gran Classico. The recipe was purchased in 1925 by the small Swiss distillery Matter-Luginbühl AG who have produced a version mostly for local consumption ever since. Clove, vanilla, orange zest and rhubarb with subtle white pepper, gentian and wormwood.
Sacred Rosehip Cup is made by microdistiller Ian Hart using rosehip and rhubarb plus another 25 mostly organic ingredients. He describes it as a “gently bitter dark-red aperitivo cordial” and recommends serving in a Negroni or 1:3 with sparkling white wine, soda or lemonade as a long drink. Earthy and barky with cranberry-like red berry fruit, floral geranium and herbal spice.
Launched in November 2012, Sprizzato is a bitter citrus and rhubarb infused spirit designed to be served with Prosecco, stirred with ice and topped up with soda water and slices of orange to create a ‘sprizzato’ or ‘spritz’. Pink grapefruit, cinnamon and orange zest with pine needles.
Launched in 1932, Campari and Soda was an early forerunner of the RTD, or alcopop, and is one of few pre-packaged cocktails to last the distance. Designed in 1929 by the Italian Art Deco and futurist designer, Fortunato Depero.
One of two bittersweet scarlet aperitivos made by Nardini this was introduced as an alternative to Campari in 1779. It owes its hue to ponceau R4, a derivative of coal tar which makes Nardini Bitter suitable for vegetarians, unlike products coloured with cochineal. Intensely orangey, like opening a box of fresh oranges; distinct pepper, candyfloss and vanilla, fresh citrus zest spray.
A red liqueur aperitif bitters that’s mainly enjoyed in Venice and the surrounding Veneto area of northern Italy. The recommended serve is one part Select to three parts orange juice over cubed ice, or served straight with lemon zest on the rocks, or with a splash or soda or mineral water. Pleasant with hints of bitter orange, floral notes, tropical lush greenness, geraniums, expensive soap, overall an aroma akin to a beauty parlour with hairspray in the air.
Gaspare Campari created this bittersweet red aperitif, flavoured with 68 herbs and spices, between 1860 and 1867 in the cellars of his Caffè Campari coffee shop in Milan. The new drink became locally famous when he moved his business to the newly built Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in September 1867. Aged blood orange peel, orange sherbet, ruby red grapefruit zest, quinine, bayleaf, cherry, lemon thyme and herbal woodyness. Heady peppery spirit tingle.
Unlike numerous other, and the brand leading Italian bittersweet, quinine flavoured, bright red, aperitif, Martini Bitter still contains the crimson-coloured dye carmine, derived the Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) beetle. Citrus with a hint of wormwood – somewhat reminiscent of a cough sweet.
An orange/red coloured Italian aperitif, created in 1919, and made of an infusion of rhubarb, cinchona (the tree from which quinine comes), gentian and several other herbs. Pink grapefruit and orange zest with strawberry jelly.
Showing results per page