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The Story of Campari: an Italian classic

Campari was invented in 1860 in Novara, Italy, by Gaspare Campari. In 1904, Campari's first production plant was opened in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan, Italy. Under the direction of Davide Campari, Gaspare's son, the company began to export the beverage, first to Nice in the heart of the French Riviera, then overseas.

Made from an infusion of herbs and fruits in alcohol and water, it has become one of the most recognised liqueurs in the world and a staple product on every back bar.

Key ingredients that give Campari’s characteristic bitterness are the bark from the Cascarilla tree that is native to the Caribbean, and the fruit from the Chinotto which is a small citrus that resembles an orange but is much more bitter in taste. The distinctive red colour of Campari originally came from carmine dye, extracted from crushed cochineal insects.

Considered an apéritif liqueur to open the palate before food, it is typically enjoyed over ice with soda water, and is a key component of cocktails including the Americano (with sweet vermouth) and Negroni (with sweet vermouth and gin).

Campari’s iconic status has only been strengthened by its connection to the art world. Famous futurist artists worked with the brand in the 1930s, whilst in the 1960s the aesthetic moved towards pop art. Celebrated Italian film director Federico Fellini’s only TV commercial was for Campari.

The drink’s avant-garde nature continued into the the modern era. In the late 90s, Campari launched a new partnership with the well-known Indian director, Tarsem, who filmed the outstanding ‘Il Graffio’ (The Scratch) commercial, the first ad to broach the subject of lesbianism in Italy and a true advertising gem.

It is sold in over 190 countries worldwide, and depending on the territory the alcohol by volume (ABV) of a bottle of Negroni can range anything from 20.5-28.5%.

Campari celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2010, and remains a symbol of the Italian lifestyle and bon vivre the world over.


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