From its humble beginnings in a small bar in Novara, Italy, to gracing the shelves of trendy cocktail bars worldwide, Campari has become synonymous with sophistication, style and the art of the aperitivo.
The Campari story begins in the picturesque town of Novara, Italy, in 1860. Gaspare Campari, a visionary and enterprising young man, created the first batch of what would soon become a legendary aperitif. Infused with a secret blend of herbs, spices and fruit, Campari quickly gained popularity for its unique and complex flavour profile.
Initially sold as an elixir in Gaspare’s very own cafe, the bright red liquid soon caught the attention of discerning patrons. The precise recipe was a closely guarded secret, known only to Gaspare and a select few. The mystique surrounding Campari only fuelled its allure, turning it into a symbol of sophistication and taste.
As the decades passed, the world witnessed a shift in drinking culture, and the concept of the aperitivo emerged as a popular social ritual in Italy. Campari played a pivotal role in this evolution, becoming synonymous with the pre-dinner tradition of enjoying a light drink accompanied by small bites. This laid the foundation for Campari’s enduring popularity.
Gaspare Campari’s innovative marketing strategies further propelled the brand’s success. Campari’s iconic label and advertising campaigns featuring avant-garde art became integral to its identity. The Negroni, a classic cocktail born in Florence in the early 20th century, played a crucial role in Campari’s rise to international fame. Comprising equal parts of Campari, sweet vermouth and gin, the Negroni showcased the spirit’s versatility and distinctive flavour, earning it a permanent place in the pantheon of classic cocktails.
As Campari’s reputation flourished, the brand expanded its reach beyond Italy, captivating the palates of cocktail enthusiasts worldwide. The United States, in particular, embraced Campari during the cocktail renaissance of the 20th century. Bartenders and mixologists experimented with Campari, incorporating it into new and inventive concoctions that showcased its versatility and complexity.
A key moment in Campari’s global ascent was the merger of Campari and the Cordial Campari Group in 2001. This consolidation streamlined production and fortified Campari’s position in the international market. The group’s portfolio expanded to include a spectrum of iconic spirits, each contributing to the brand’s reputation for quality and innovation.
One standout within Campari’s extended family is Aperol, a sibling with a distinct personality that complements its older relative. Originating in 1919 in Padua, Aperol was crafted by the Barbieri brothers. Like Campari, Aperol boasts a brilliant orange hue, but its flavour profile leans towards the sweeter side, making it a more approachable introduction to the world of Italian aperitifs.
A global symbol of summer, Aperol has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in the form of the Aperol Spritz. Its vibrant colour and effervescence have made it Instagram-worthy, further fuelling its meteoric rise in popularity. The success of Aperol is not just seen in the western hemisphere, as the drink becomes increasingly popular around the world, the Aperol Spritz is also gaining a cult following in Asia, especially in Indonesia.
Aperol holds an annual Aperol Spritz Festival in Bali, securing its status as the go-to summertime drink. The festival made its debut in 2023 and collaborates with eateries all over the island to promote the refreshing drink while guests enjoy the mesmerising sunset views. Similarly, for over a decade, cocktail connoisseurs have linked Campari and Negroni to Negroni Week. Taking place around the world for a week in September, Negroni Week aims to celebrate one of the greatest cocktails ever made while also raising money for charitable causes all over the world.
The Campari Group is a living example of Campari’s lasting legacy and its deliberate foray into complementary brands such as Aperol. The group’s portfolio includes an impressive array of spirits and liqueurs, each contributing their own unique character to the world of mixology.
Exquisite Taste Volume 42