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8 Campari Substitutes

bottle of campari next to an orange drink on a bar

Campari is a popular Italian aperitif that has gained a loyal following around the world. It has a unique flavor profile that is both bitter and sweet, with a hint of herbal notes. While it is a beloved ingredient in many cocktails, it may not be readily available in all regions. Fortunately, there are several substitutes for Campari that can be used to create similar flavors in cocktails and other recipes.

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Understanding Campari is crucial to finding the right substitute. Campari is made from a blend of herbs, spices, and fruit, including bitter orange peel, rhubarb, and quinine. These ingredients give Campari its distinctive flavor profile and bright red color. The bitterness of Campari comes from the quinine, while the sweetness comes from added sugar. The balance of these flavors is what makes Campari such a unique ingredient.

These substitutes can be used in cocktails and other recipes that call for Campari, but it is important to keep in mind that they may not have the exact same flavor profile as Campari. Homemade Campari substitutes are also an option for those who want to experiment with creating their own unique flavor profiles

Aperol

bottles of aperol and campari

Aperol is the most popular substitute for Campari and is the closest in terms of taste. It contains rhubarb and other herbs and also has the same deep orangy-red hue that Campari has. Aperol can be used in the same amount as Campari in cocktails or enjoyed on the rocks. It is also the main ingredient in the popular Aperol Spritz cocktail.

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Contratto Bitter

Contratto Bitter is another Italian bitter liqueur that can be used as a substitute for Campari. It is made with a blend of over 30 herbs, spices, and fruits and has a slightly sweeter taste than Campari. It is an excellent choice for those who find Campari too bitter.

Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano

Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano is a wine-based Italian bitter that is made with a grape brandy base. It has a deep red color and a slightly bitter taste that is similar to Campari. It can be used in cocktails or enjoyed on its own.

Fernet Branca

Fernet Branca is a bitter liqueur that is made with over 27 herbs and spices. It has a strong, bitter taste that is similar to Campari. It is an excellent substitute for Campari in cocktails that require a strong, bitter flavor.

Luxardo Bitter

Luxardo Bitter is an Italian bitter that is made with a blend of herbs and spices. It has a slightly sweeter taste than Campari and can be used in cocktails that require a less bitter flavor. It is also an excellent choice for those who find Campari too strong.

Meletti 1870

Meletti 1870 is an Italian liqueur that is made with a blend of herbs and spices. It has a slightly sweet taste and a deep red color that is similar to Campari. It can be used in cocktails or enjoyed on its own.

Red Amaro

Red Amaro is a family of Italian bitter liqueurs that Campari is a part of. It can be used as a substitute for Campari in cocktails and has a similar bittersweet and herbal flavor. Some popular red amaros include Knight Gabriello Rosso Amaro and Aperix Aperativo.

See also  Mezcal Negroni

Homemade Bitters

One way to create a Campari substitute is by making homemade bitters. Bitters are a concentrated flavoring agent made from a variety of herbs, spices, and bittering agents. By infusing these ingredients in alcohol, you can create a unique flavor that can be used in cocktails or as a digestive aid.

To make a Campari-like bitters, you can use ingredients such as gentian root, orange peel, and quinine. These ingredients can be infused in a high-proof alcohol such as vodka or grain alcohol for several weeks. Once the infusion is complete, the bitters can be strained and bottled for future use.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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