When we tell you to think of Campari, what comes to your mind first? Is it happy memories of enjoying a glass of Negroni? Maybe dry hurling after a wild night of too much alcohol?
This bright red Italian liqueur triggers tons of love or hate in those who drink it, and fortunately, we love Campari!
We praise it for the complex bitterness and sweetness, but we know people who believe it tastes like cough syrup.
Because of the vast difference of opinions, it must make you wonder, “what does Campari taste like?”
Short Answer: Campari has a strong, bittersweet flavor that is unique and not easily replicated. It’s the perfect cocktail mixer because it stands up to other strong flavors while still providing a distinct taste. Campari is made with a combination of herbs, fruits, and spices that give it its characteristic flavor.
We’re here to share in more detail what you should know about Campari, its flavors, and what to expect from drinking it.
What is Campari?
Before anything else, you’re probably wondering what Campari is. For those who haven’t delved into this liqueur (some of us just read the bottle, and we’re good – don’t worry, we’re guilty of this, too), Campari is a bitter Italian liqueur consumed as an aperitif. That means it’s a drink we enjoy before meals.
Fun fact: Campari is part of the Italian amaro family, and amaro translates to “little bitter” in Italian.
Gaspare Campari created Campari in Novare, Italy, in 1860. Fast forward to today, and it’s now one of the most popular Italian liqueurs, mainly because of its presence of infamous cocktails like the Americano and Negroni.
This drink features a bright red color, which also makes it unique and popular among many drinkers.
Fun fact: Did you know that Campari's iconic red color was initially made from a dye of crushed insects? Don't worry, guys, because it's now made of artificial red coloring, free from bugs.
Campari is sold by Gruppo Campari, which bought Aperol in the 1990s. But don’t mistake Aperol and Campari for the same drink, as they have differences which we explain in the next section!
What Does Campari Taste Like?
Now, onto the million-dollar question: What does Campari taste like?
We’re not going to just say Campari tastes excellent (or yucky); we know you came here for the nitty-gritty details, so you know what to expect!
Basically, Campari has that strong, bittersweet flavor. Campari would have cherry, clove, cinnamon, and orange peel notes. Imagine the combination of bitter greens and orange rinds, and you’ve got Campari’s aroma down. Tasting it is a whole different experience and an enjoyable one at that.
As you take a sip, the bitterness is quite strong from the start and finish. But you will begin tasting the notes of cherry and orange, with the spicy edge reminding you of cinnamon.
You might also taste hints of bittersweet chocolate and vanilla orchid extract. The longer you sip, the more apparent the sweet flavors are. That said, the bitterness won’t ever go away!
Pro-tip: If you don’t want to take Campari on its own but don’t feel like making a whole cocktail, we recommend mixing it with club soda to make it a bit sweeter.
The reason why it’s a hit or miss among drinkers is that Campari is one of the most bitter liqueurs in today’s cocktails. But if you’ll have Campari before meals, that bitter aftertaste won’t last long. That’s probably due to the presence of bitter herbs and aromatic plants, giving it a distinct taste.
Fun fact: Campari is only sold by one group, so there aren't any generic brands. Furthermore, no one but the Gruppo Campari knows the liqueur's exact recipe. The contents are a guarded secret, with some people speculating that there are chinotto citrus fruits that aid the drink's bitterness.
As for Campari’s texture, it is silkier than it is oily. The liqueur would roll around your tongue nicely, having a moderately heavy feel. It’s comparable to fruit juice.
That’s why we don’t always recommend drinking Campari on its own unless you’re a huge fan of bitter drinks. This liqueur has an acquired taste, and over time, you might just love having this before meals.
It’s worth a shot, but Campari is better off mixed into your favorite cocktails. In fact, that’s the reason why we love this liqueur, because it’s featured in many classic cocktails and modern classics, particularly sweet or sour drinks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions about the Campari? We answer them below!
1. What is the ABV of Campari?
According to Gruppo Campari, the ABV can range from 5-28%. On average, the bottles are sold at 24% ABV.
Fun fact: If you want to buy a bottle of Campari, it costs about $20-30, depending on the bottle size and where you purchase it from.
2. What cocktails feature the Campari?
You can enjoy Campari in so many ways. You can drink it on its own, with mixers, as a base spirit in cocktails; the choice is yours! If you want to make your own cocktail, you’ll see Campari often featured in drinks like:
- Negroni (*)
- Jungle Bird
- Campari Spritz
- Old Pal
3. Aperol and Campari: The Real difference?
Aperol is another Italian liqueur owned by Gruppo Campari like Campari. Aperol is bright orange, while Campari has a bright red hue. Campari is more bitter because of its higher ABV and since it’s made with quinine, which comes from cinchona bark. On the other hand, Aperol tastes milder and is made with gentian root.
Aperol and Campari are both aperitifs that have a bitter orange flavor. But since Aperol is less intense, you can use it as an aperitif, in cocktails, or for salad dressings or recipes for extra zest.
Wrapping It Up
We hope this article answered your question: What does Campari taste like?
Now that you know the answer, it’s time to purchase a bottle to taste test it yourself!
Let us know what you think of Campari, and check out more of our informative blogs to learn about the flavors of other famous drinks. Enjoy!