Gintime Editor Geraldine Coates takes a fresh look at spirit of the Dolce Vita.
At Gintime we’ve long been fans of Campari harking back to the days when a Campari and Soda with a chunk of orange seemed the height of sophistication. And that’s not to mention that force of nature, the Negroni. This summer we’ve been experimenting with Campari and Tonic and really can’t rave enough about it. It’s the perfect Italian aperitivo (aperitif), literally ‘an opener of the palate’. There’s good scientific sense behind this as the bitter taste of Campari on the tongue increases digestive secretions, cleanses the palate and sharpens the appetite. Combined with the herbaceous and refreshing Fever Tree the result is a herbal, pleasantly bitter, cooling drink best enjoyed as the sun sets on a perfect English summer’s day.
And here’s some background on the famous bitters. Campari was invented in 1860 by Gaspare Campari who perfected a blend of over 60 different fruits, aromatic herbs, spices, peels and bitters. He originally named his drink Bitter all’uso d’Hollandia, to capitalise on the popularity of Dutch cordials and liqueurs at the time. Very quickly however it was simply called Campari.
Campari is still made to Gaspare’s original recipe, a formula that is only ever known to three people in the world. Even its production is shrouded in secrecy. Only casual labour work at the distillery in Milan and each ingredient is numbered, not named, so no one ever becomes familiar with what is in the blend. However experts have identified yarrow, wormwood, quinine, rhubarb, ginseng and orange peel in the complex array of flavours and aromas. Some of the ingredients are infused in alcohol, others in hot water, to extract their essences. Then the flavours combine over the two weeks that the spirit rests before it is bottled. The result is the distinctive, surprisingly complex, bitter flavour belying Campari’s rich ruby colour that suggests sweetness.
Try it with Fever Tree as below:
Campari & Tonic
50ml Campari, top with Fever Tree Tonic Water add ice and a squeeze of fresh lime
For more information on Campari visit www.campari.com