If you or someone you know loves the finer drinks in life, you probably enjoy Campari!

Campari has a unique and recognizable flavor profile that features its one-of-a-kind bitter and complex taste. For years, fans have flocked to Campari because it combines herbal, fruity, and spicy notes mixed together. Its unique nature and taste make it stand out in cocktails and beverages all over the world.

It’s a very versatile liqueur that is used in a wide, exciting range of cocktails, from things like classic recipes such as the Negroni to more contemporary mixes. Bartenders from all types of establishments really appreciate its ability to add depth and character to drinks.

Some people love Campari because of its past and its story. Campari has a rich history dating back to the 19th century in Italy. Its association with the culture of that country, along with art and lifestyle has contributed to its appeal and acclaim.

Some of the most well-loved and regarded cocktails, such as the Negroni and Americano, use Campari as one of the key ingredients. These drinks have gained widespread popularity over the years and have helped showcase Campari’s unique taste to a global audience.

Recently, Campari has invested in strong marketing campaigns and distinctive branding, which has resulted in an image that is sophisticated, vibrant, and also associated with a cosmopolitan lifestyle. It feels high-class to many people and that has contributed to its appeal among consumers looking to try the finer things in life.

Campari has maintained the very same formula and quality over the years, which has ensured its special consistency and also its flavor, and has maintained its classy reputation as a high-quality, classic liqueur.

Campari’s popularity can be attributed to several things: its unique flavor, versatility in mixology, cultural significance, and strong branding. All of this has come together to make it a beloved ingredient in classic and contemporary cocktails enjoyed by people around the world.

What Exactly Is Campari & What Is Its Background?

Campari is a beloved liqueur renowned for its characteristic bitter and herbal flavor. It was created in the city Novara, Italy, all the way back in 1860 by a man named Gaspare Campari. Since its creation, it has been a staple in a bunch of classic cocktails.

The liqueur is composed of a blend of herbs, spices, aromatic plants, and fruit peels, infused with alcohol and water. Some of its immediate ingredients include things like bitter oranges, rhubarb, ginseng, quinine, and a secret mix of herbs. It’s a whole lot of things mixed together to create its special taste.

One of Campari’s most defining characteristics is its bitter taste, balanced by underlying herbal and fruity notes. This bitterness comes from the combination of different plants and herbs during the creation process.

Campari isn’t weak and it definitely packs quite a punch for people drinking it. Campari normally has an alcohol-by-volume content of about 20% all the way up to 28%, depending on the specific product and region.

cocktail with campari and blood orange
photo credit UliAb/shutterstock
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It is widely used in cocktails and mixed drinks, often known for its role in the classic Negroni cocktail, where it’s combined with gin and sweet vermouth. Campari is also an essential ingredient in other famous cocktails.

Campari has a deep red hue, which is achieved via the addition of red dye or carmine, giving it an eye-catching look.

Campari’s distinctive and elaborate flavor makes it a wide-ranging ingredient in drink-making, and its iconic taste has gained a dedicated following all over the world. It is enjoyed both on its own and as a crucial element in a wide range of cocktails.

What Are The Best Campari Substitutes?

Recreating the special flavor of Campari isn’t easy but it is possible. It has a distinct flavor profile that blends both bitterness along with herbal and fruity notes. When you absolutely have to have a substitute for Campari, you luckily have a few things to choose from.


The ingredient Aperol is a lot like Campari but it is less bitter and has a sweeter taste with citrusy notes. It’s often used as a substitute in cocktails where Campari is too bitter.

Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano

This Italian ingredient has a bitterness similar to Campari but with a few different herbal and citrus undertones. It can be a good alternative for cocktails.

Campari Soda or Campari Light

Some brands offer variations of Campari that are lighter and less bitter. These versions can be more approachable for those who find Campari’s bitterness overwhelming.

Non-Alcoholic Bitters

Some non-alcoholic bitters or aperitif alternatives might capture some aspects of Campari’s flavor without the alcohol in it. When you need these, look for bitters with herbal, citrus, and bitter notes.

Homemade Substitutes

You can construct your own Campari substitute by blending together equal parts of sweet vermouth and also a bitter liqueur like Aperol which was mentioned above or another bitter. Play around with it, tweak and adjust, until you find what you want. Change the ratios to match the desired bitterness level.

Now, while all of these substitutes can come pretty close to mimicking Campari’s special flavor profile, they might not replicate it perfectly. So you may need to experiment with small amounts first to see which alternative best suits your taste preferences and the specific cocktail or recipe you’re making. Unfortunately, finding a good Campari substitute requires a lot of trial and error, so you should be prepared to work hard at it. 

What Can You Use Campari In?

You might not be familiar with it but Campari is used in a ton of various cocktails and mixed drinks because of its distinctive bitter and herbal flavor profile. Let’s take a look at just some of the very popular drinks that rely on Campari for their flavor. 


This is probably the most popular drink that incorporates Campari. This classic cocktail comprises equal parts of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth, and is usually garnished with an orange peel. Negroni is known for its bold as well as its balanced flavor. It’s delicious, classy, well-loved, and usually a wonderful way to start the night.


Another popular drink that is known as a high-class and specialty drink, the Americano is a strong drink that packs quite a punch. Made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water, the Americano is a lighter and refreshing cocktail perfect for casual sipping.

Campari Spritz

A simple yet refreshing drink made with Campari, prosecco or any other sparkling wine, and soda water, the Campari Spritz is often garnished with an orange slice. It’s a popular delight in Campari’s home country of Italy, especially during warmer months.


This cocktail is made with a mix of Campari, whiskey like bourbon or rye, and sweet vermouth. The Boulevardier is a richer and slightly different twist to the Negroni and while it’s not as popular, it definitely has a big legion of fans.


A straightforward yet rich cocktail made by mixing Campari with fresh orange juice, the Garibaldi delivers a bittersweet and fruity flavor.

Campari and Soda

Another concise yet enjoyable mix of Campari and soda water served over ice, the Campari and Soda is simple to make and also highlights Campari’s bitter notes along with a nice, refreshing twist.

Aside from these classic cocktails, mixologists and bartenders often experiment with Campari to create new and innovative drinks by combining it with various spirits, mixers, and ingredients. Its bold and unique flavor makes it a versatile ingredient, allowing for a wide range of creative cocktail possibilities.

What Foods Does Campari Go With?

Campari’s bitter, herbal, and slightly fruity profile pairs well with certain foods, especially those that complement its unique flavor. Campari-based cocktails go well with appetizers such as olives, cured meats like prosciutto or salami, and bruschetta with fresh tomatoes or olive tapenade.

Additionally, the slight citrus notes in Campari make it a suitable complement for other dishes that incorporate citrus flavors. Seafood dishes, for example, like grilled shrimp with lemon or citrus-infused salads can pair nicely with Campari-based drinks.

Campari’s unique bitterness will complement salads or dishes featuring bitter greens like arugula, radicchio, or endive. The bitterness in both the drink and the food can harmonize well together. Its herbal and slightly bitter notes can offset rich and savory dishes like pasta with sauces, risotto, roasted or vegetables.

And don’t forget about dessert, which is another great time to enjoy some Campari. Its hints of fruitiness can pair nicely with certain desserts, especially those that incorporate fruits like oranges or berries, which are very popular in Italian cuisine. It can complement desserts like citrus tarts, berry-based sweets, or even dark chocolate.

The herbal notes in Campari usually balance out some spicy dishes, particularly those with a decent amount of heat. You should consider pairing it with spicy cuisines like Thai or Indian dishes for a contrasting flavor experience.

When enjoying Campari with some food, consider the drink’s bitter and herbal attributes and aim for foods that either contrast or complement those flavors for a well-rounded dining or drinking experience. As with all things, personal taste plays a significant role in determining enjoyable food and drink pairings.


Are you ready to find the right meal to pair with your Campari drink? Browse through our site to find the dish that’s perfect for you!

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