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Drink Of The Week: Campari Sour

Campari Sour scented with orange bitters

Campari Sour scented with orange bitters

If any drink exemplifies the flavors that Campari has to offer, it's probably straight Campari, but besides that, our Drink Of The Week really shows off this wonderful bitter liqueur. It may be based on just a simple sour formula, but I am surprised how much I enjoy this drink. It's not very strong either which makes it a nice option before dinner.

I hope to feature other bitter cocktails as the year goes on, but I figure this one makes a nice conclusion to the previous post about potable bitters. The fact that this drink is also sweet and sour makes it a bit more accessible for someone starting to explore bitter flavors. If you aren't already a fan of Campari, this is a great way to discover what all the fuss is about.

Campari SourCampari Sour
1.5 oz Campari
.5 oz simple syrup (1:1)
1 oz lemon juice
1 egg white
7 drops orange bitters (garnish)

Add the Campari, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white to a shaker, seal, and shake without ice for 30 seconds. Open the shaker, add ice and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish the surface with orange bitters.

I first encountered this cocktail at a homemade bitters seminar at the Bradstreet Crafthouse. It incorporates so many concepts into a single recipe that it might be the perfect teaching tool. First, you have the basic sour formula which demonstrates the importance of balance. Then, there is the egg white which let's you explain how protein can be used to create a frothy emulsion. You can also demonstrate the mime shake (without ice), and how it helps build a healthy meringue before you add ice to chill the contents of the shaker. You can obviously discuss bitterness and how Campari is just one of many potable bitters. Finally, you can point out how the orange bitters garnish gives the drink an aromatic nose.

For such a simple cocktail, there is a lot going on here. Could you substitute Aperol? I don't see why not, but you might want to reduce the simple syrup a bit. You could also try using maraschino as a sub for the syrup altogether. This cocktail certainly has possibilities. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

14 comments to Drink Of The Week: Campari Sour

  • DIA

    We're a big fan of bitter cocktails, great choice for drink of the week!

    Cheers DIA

  • craftycoder

    So, this is favorite of mine but my wife absolutely loathes Campari. To change it up for her, I swapped out the Campari for Aperol, grenadine for simple syrup, and removed the egg white which created a really tasty drink that even she liked. It was so good that I slammed the first one and made another that I poured it into a Collins glass on the rocks and topped with soda. None of the flavor is lost and bubbles add a nice texture in the mouth. The final drink is much lighter than the original. A nice evolution to be sure.
    1.5 oz Aperol
    1 oz lemon juice
    .5 oz grenadine
    1 dash orange bitters

    Stir, serve on rocks in Collins glass. Top with soda.

  • A friend tipped me off to your blog and this cocktail in particular. Made one tonight and it was sensational. My wife and I were involved in a bitters making party last year and I still had some orange bitters left - and they worked great.

    I live in New Hope MN, and like the cocktails at Brad Street, La Belle Vie, Cafe Maude, the Strip Club, and now the defunct Town Talk. Any other places you suggest locally to check out?


  • Hi, Glen Leslie. Thanks for visiting. It sounds like you are hitting the good spots for craft cocktails. Nick from Town Talk suggested Amore Victoria and the Prairie Ale House, although I have not tried them. I'd also like to try some of the tiki drinks at Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge. That's going to be a different vibe than the rest, no doubt, but the focus on tropical/exotic is hard to find anywhere else. Another place worth consideration is Prohibition at the W Hotel (Foshay Tower). It's a cool venue, and the lobby bar echos the same drink menu. Prohibition seems to play host to some of the distillery releases once in an while such as Maker's 46 and the new Knob Creek.

    I am glad you are liking the Campari Sour. It can take some getting used to for the uninitiated, but even the guy who runs Campari supposedly said it takes someone three times drinking it before they decide they like it!

    I hope you stick around and browse some of the other posts. I have tried to build the site over time, evolving with various topics that build upon previous posts. In that way it's somewhat of a chronological journey, but you can jump in anywhere since I try to link references back to earlier posts where appropriate.

    I see you posted something on the Wall on Facebook. I am heading over there next. . .

  • Thanks for the tips on Amore Victoria and the Prairie Ale House.. I'll definitely check them out... but do yourself a favor and order beer at Psychos! Visually the place is terrific and the new deck unbelievable - but the cocktails ... ugh. The drink menu Johnny (La Belle Vie) put together for them got nixed at the last second, so it's not what it could have been. The first month, they had some decent "classic" rum cocktails, but now its back to the super sweet, vanilla potpourri candle wax flavored drinks. Better to fly to Ft. Lauderdale and partake in the wonder of the Mai Kai -- or just make stuff out of Jeff Berry's Grog Log!

  • Well, that settles it. It's been this long and I haven't gone there, so I guess there's no need! Armed with Jeff Berry's recipes, I am perfectly happy making stuff at home. Thanks for the tip!

  • Chris M.

    Just tried this drink subbing the simple for maraschino as suggested. Turned out lovely!

  • Wow, Chris M.! Thanks for reporting back. I had a feeling about that but I never got around to trying it. Of course, now I am out of Campari, so maybe I can use Aperol. I am so glad the suggestion worked. Now, what else could we try? Licor 43? Cointreau?

  • Jon

    I found a nice variation to make it a little fruitier for those who find the original slightly too Campari-y is to add .5oz Cointreau. Also subbed the simple for Grenadine and it went down a storm. LOVE your site by the way, haven't had time to read all the pages nor make all the drinks I want to yet, but I will......

  • Jon, thanks for visiting and reading. Great suggestion on the substitutions. My Campari is gone at the moment, but when I restock, this sounds like a winner!

  • Stephen

    Sub come casiss for the simple syrup and add 2 oz or rye or bourbon...for a campari whiskey sour....

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