New seasons call for new spirits — and most often, it's the bright red Campari that's leading the way into spring drinking. The bittersweet aperitif usually makes its debut in the season's Negronis, or is most often put with soda for a light, refreshing drink. But we're here to tell you that there are many more ways to be drinking Campari this year.
New York City's Marble Lane at Dream Downtown’s beverage director William Ward notes that, “It's seen as hip and cool to order esoteric products such as Lillet, Campari, Averna and Chartreuse,” adding that, “most aperitifs are lower in alcohol and make for a great base for low-cal/low-alcohol cocktails that are showing up on menus.”
It's not that we don't love a good Negroni now and then, but there are new ways to update the drink. At the Arlington Club in New York City, everyone loves a good reinvented Negroni. The signature drink (also called the Arlington Club) puts Campari with Woodford Reserve Bourbon (instead of gin) and Carpano Antica, a sweet, Italian vermouth. At Marble Lane in New York City, they serve a Cloud 9 cocktail with Campari, gin, grapefruit, and lime. And at Broken Shaker in Miami, they serve a carbonated mix of gin, Aperol, lemon juice, blood orange juice and simple syrup that’s bottled and served on ice. With these as inspiration, think about making some easy Campari bottled cocktails for your next spring occassion.
From innovative cocktails to foams and infusions, bartenders are taking Campari to the next level. You honestly won't find anything hotter than the Heat Ray cocktail made at Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Heat Ray cocktail, made with ancho chili-infused Campari. "I am always trying to think of new ways to incorporate Campari into cocktails," says Sunshine Co.'s bartender Natasha David. "You don't see a lot of Tiki Campari drinks, so the desire to create this cocktail grew from that. As far as thinking of what to infuse the Campari with — we immediately thought dried ancho chile peppers. Rather than making the drink spicy, ancho chiles just impart a subtle heat — a heat you feel in the finish. Since the drink is sort of tropical, for the lack of a better word, we liked the idea of it being somewhat 'warming' at the same time." Perfect for that almost-spring chill that's hanging in the air. And yes, you too can make Campari foams and sugars — but we're still waiting for the secret on how to make GBD Chicken and Doughnuts' Campari Grapefruit donut. That's one recipe we'll drool over for quite awhile.
Click ahead to find newly invented Campari cocktails for a twist on your next cocktail party — because you know that Campari bottle on your home bar needs to be put to good use.