So, last night was one of those gorgeous end-of days in spring when the sun was still out, the air was cooling off and everybody seemed to be out on the porch.
I ended up on a new porch, with a some women who I didn't know well enough to whip out a camera phone on, so the photo above is not mine but it looks exactly like the drink I was offered.
I was between soccer pickup and dropoff, and had just deposited my older daughter at a friend's house a town away, so I needed something a little less potent and easy to sip slowly, due to the remaining trips in the car with multiple kids. My friend Aimee offered me a Campari and Soda, with the comment that I'd definitely not be tossing it back fast. (Campari also has a lower alcohol content, so it's a good choice when you are trying to take it slow.)
She was right. And I like bitter, so I think it's kind of perfect, but the consensus on the porch was split between fans and critics. They all did agree that it's tart and refreshing and definitely something that warrants a sip at a time. Plus, fun fact I found today on wikipedia - when Campari was first made in Italy in the 1860s, it was colored with carmine dye, and the red in the dye came from crushed cochineal - our favorite yarn dyeing bug! They've changed that - but it was a surprisingly recent change, made in 2006.
So yes, Campari has a bitter edge to it - and if you serve it with soda and lemon, it's even more pronounced. You can make a Negroni by adding gin, or you can try to inject a little sweetness with a bit of sugar, some reisling or I've heard of trying it with a dash of Southern Comfort (not sure about that one). I think I may do a little more experimenting.
But the classic way to have it is this:
2 oz Campari
.5 oz fresh lemon juice/orange juice
lemon peel/orange peel
pour over ice and add soda water.
What do you think?