Bitters have long been a summer classic. If your palate loves to be shocked and challenged, then the amari are a must!
Campari and Aperol are an acquired taste. I’m sure you know a few people who won’t touch the stuff and some that swear by it. I fall into the latter category. For me, bitters hold a very special place—a pedestal, even—in my heart. I love the stuff. I love their bitterness and the way a little of it goes a long way. I appreciate their sophisticated depth and find the bitter component they bring to cocktails absolutely essential. If it wasn’t for Campari we wouldn’t have the time-tested Negroni or the Americano and I wouldn’t be a happy mom.
Both Aperol and Campari are Italian aperitivos produced by the Campari Group. Campari was created in 1860 by Gaspare Campari, which makes it a year older than Italy! Aperol was originally created by he brothers Luigi and Silvio Barbieri in 1919. Now Aperol is owned by the Campari company.
They are both characterized as bitters, an alcoholic beverage that is flavored with bitter herbal essences. In cocktails, they are tasked with the role of balancing the sweet notes of a recipe.
Because of the complexity of the spirits –both Aperol and Campari are made from a secret combination of herbs and roots, with some citrus and a hint of sweetness—and a striking color. Each one brings a lot of flavor without a lot of effort. Choosing between the two is mostly a matter of desire for bitterness – Campari is very, very bitter, with some vegetal notes, where Aperol is a bit more refined. At about 11% ABV, it’s also lower in alcohol than Campari, at 23%.
The Aperol spritz emerged in the 1950s: a slug of Aperol, a slosh of prosecco and a top-up of soda water. This “cocktail” is a perfect way to begin an evening if you don’t want to get plastered.
Aperol is also known as the younger brother of Campari. Coming in a bright orange color, Aperol has been made from many ingredients, such as; licorice, fennel, aniseed, popular buds, bitter clover, wormwood, valerian, gentian, bitter orange, andcinchiona and rhubarb.
The ingredients used in Campari still remain a closely-guarded secret. It is said to consist of Seville orange and herbs, which gives it a different flavor.
Interesting bit of trivia about Campari: until just a few years ago, Campari was a sand-pit for vegan drinkers. The dye used to produce the rich red color was taken from crushed cochineal insects! Now it’s artificially colored. Who knows the difference?
And now, the battle regarding the use of Aperol vs Campari in cocktail recipes. That’s because they have a lot of similarities, but they are words apart.
- Aperol has a strong orange and mandarin flavor and an easy sugary sweetness. Campari kicks in with a bold woody bitterness.
- Always consider the color palette: Campari is a darker ruby red, while Aperol has a lighter orange coloring.
- Campari has nearly double the alcohol content of Aperol – it’s in boozier drinks that pack a punch
- Federico Fellini directed Campari adverts. What could be more Italian???
- And finally, Campari is altogether more serious and sophisticated!OK, Whatever: they’re both delicious – none of this remotely matters.
- The verdict: Aperol until 3pm or so, Campari from then on.