There’s no denying the versatility of Campari — Italy’s famous cocktail bitter — in quality drink mixing. And with Canada currently experiencing a Campari shortage, lovers of this apéritif will be clamouring to get their hands on a bottle once it’s back in stock at local liquor stores.
When the beloved spirit does finally hit shelves again, or if you’re one of the lucky one who still has a bottle, go ahead and mix up some of these classic Campari-driven libations. Whether you’re entertaining friends at home, or unwinding after a day’s work, these five cocktails will have you hooked just like I am.
Possibly the world’s most famous Campari cocktail, the Negroni was invented in Florence, Italy some time around 1919. Its simplicity is deceiving as its flavour is actually quite complex. Note: the type of gin and vermouth you choose can drastically change the drink’s flavour profile, so play around with different brands to find your favourite combination.
The ‘Lucien Gaudin’ was first introduced to me by Vancouver bar legend Jay Jones in 2010, and I haven’t been able to find a better cocktail since. The story of its origins had me hooked before I even tried it. Lucien Gaudin was a world famous fencer and double Olympic gold medalist hailing from France, and at the time of his death in 1934 he was considered the best swordsman to have ever lived. While dueling with a novice fencer he was cut badly and could no longer compete in the sport he loved, and, tormented by his future, Gaudin took an early exit. His legend now lives on in this world-class libation.
The Spagliato (pronounced spal-yacht-oh) came together by fluke, as history has it. Somebody, somewhere in Milan accidentally grabbed the spumante instead of the gin, and a new cocktail legend was born. Spagliato in Italian literally means “mistake”, but there’s no mistaking that this cocktail is delightful — especially as a weekend brunch accompaniment.
The Boulevardier, an American version of the Negroni, is a drink that packs a wicked punch. Commonly made with Kentucky Bourbon, this extremely versatile cocktail can take on many forms (just like its Italian cousin). Choosing an appropriate whisky is your first step, and in my opinion, bourbon at 50 percent proof works best. You’ll also need a solid vermouth, and luckily for us our liquor store shelves are loaded with all kinds of great options to choose from.
Not to be confused with a Cosmopolitan (they share a slightly pink hue), the ‘Jasmine’ is a slightly sweeter and more approachable libation that serves as a nice introduction for the inexperienced Campari drinker, as well as a perfect summertime thirst quencher.