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Campari: Italy's Classic Apéritif Liqueur

Plus how to use it in your favorite drinks

In the Miami heat, a fruity drink seems to always make sense. And at the bohemian, tchotchke-filled paradise that is The Broken Shaker—situated within the Freehand Hotel—a tropical stir takes hold, flavoring drinks seasonally with mango, mamey, and morello cherries. It's easy to call this place Miami's best bar—and it is.

What began as a pop-up from bartenders Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta graduated to a permanent home when the Freehand debuted back in 2012. Since then, the Shaker has been spreading liquid courage via a smart list of fruit-forward tipples, often served in vintage glassware with paper straws. But don't get it twisted because this isn't quite a tiki bar, despite the Shaker's vintage flower wallpaper and retro wooden bar. The cocktail list reads like a patchwork quiltwith clear inspiration from South America, Asia, Mexico, and the U.S.bound through fresh ingredient and quality spirits.

One such bottle that's always stocked behind the Shaker's bar is Campari, Italy's classic cherry red bitter apéritif liqueur developed by beverage enthusiast Gaspare Campari in 1860. While Campari wasn't necessarily the country's first bitter beverage, what set it apart from other savory liquors at the time—which were usually consumed after eating to aid in digestion—was that Campari was a bitter meant to be sipped before a meal, as an apéritif, to stimulate one's appetite. Think of Campari as one of Italy's original apéritif liqueurs, a potation that's credited with launching Europe's apéritif culture which is embraced to this day.

Below, The Broken Shaker's head bartender Gui Jaroschy waxes poetic on Campari.

The Broken Shaker's Gui Jaroschy on Campari:

A vintage Camprai ad

A vintage Campari ad. [Image courtesy of Campari]

What Is Campari?

Campari is an amazing ingredient. The popular cocktail addition has a very distinct flavor of orange pith, savory herbs, and sweet citrus, and it provides a nice contrast to the usual sweet, sour, and heavy bitter notes in a bartender's tool kit.

Clocking in at about 20 ABV (alcohol by volume) depending on the country in which it's sold, Campari has been a staple ingredient at the Shaker since we opened four years ago. It's an ingredient that was in cocktails on our very first menu, and it's on our most recent menu, too. We love to infuse it with fresh herbs from our garden, tropical fruitor, really, just about anything.

Campari has become a lot more popular over the years, but somehow it has maintained favor with bartenders. This fact is surprising since most bartenders behave like 20-something hipsters when their favorite band is discovered and abandon ship as more people use their favorite ingredients. Because of its bitter flavor, some people go out of their way to avoid Campari, but the overwhelming majority of guests respond well to it, and really enjoy it.

Vintage Campari posters. [Images courtesy of Campari]

How to Use Campari

Campari has a bright and light bitterness which works in everything from tiki drinks, to long, low-alcohol cocktails, to stirred punchy cocktails. I truly can't think of a drink style that, if used judiciously, Campari wouldn't complement.

When making drinks at home, start with classics like the americano or negroni. The few ingredients in these timeless tipples highlight Campari's bittersweet citrus profile, and they are also super easy to make. Once you discover the amount of Campari you enjoy, begin experimenting with adding it to various kinds of libations.

  • Flavor Notes: Orange peel, orange pith, thyme
  • Perfect Pairings: Sweet vermouth, fresh orange, honey, rosemary, tropical fruit (pineapple, guava, and passion fruit)
  • Liquors that Jive: Dry gin, rye whiskey, pisco
  • Stay Away From: Snake wine, Pavan, mixto tequila

Pro Tip

A little can go a long way. When in doubt use less to add more.


Take Me To The Moon

1 1/2 ounces rye whisky
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce guava purée
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce mint syrup
mint sprig, for garnish
lemon wheel, for garnish

Combine bourbon, Campari, guava purée, lemon juice, and mint syrup in cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wheel.


1 1/4 ounces Campari
1 1/2 ounces Italian sweet vermouth
club soda
orange slice, for garnish

Add ice to a Collins glass. Combine Campari and sweet vermouth, then top with club soda. Stir and garnish with an orange slice.

The Broken Shaker

2727 Indian Creek Drive, , FL 33140 (305) 531-2727 Visit Website
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