24 July 2010

Il Aperitivo Perfetto per l'Estate

Only just the other day I realized that the Summer was sliding by and I had yet to stock the house with Campari. I love that stuff, with a bit of soda and a slice of orange. I find it refreshing on a hot day, especially while cooking. Mrs. G. can't stand the stuff, which only means that I get the whole bottle to myself. Trouble is, these days Campari is pushing $30 a bottle, and I am, as you all know, a cheapskate.

Enter Luxardo Bitter. A mere $15 a bottle. I had been eyeing this stuff for a while. Luxardo is an old Italian company that produces a wide range of cordials and liqueurs. They're best known for their Maraschino liqueur and real Maraschino cherries, both of which will elevate your next Manhattan to a new level, if you can find them. All the other classics are in the line up as well: limoncello, sambuca, and even fernet. So I figured they must know what they're doing.

If there's any difference between the taste of Luxardo Bitter and Campari, it's pretty slight. In fact, I think I might even like this better. Price aside, this stuff is a littler lighter, more delicate in texture than Campari. Served over ice with Polar lime seltzer and a couple of Clementine wedges, it really hit the spot. It also makes a fine Negroni, a drink you'd better watch out for, since it also contains gin and does not include any non-alcoholic ingredients. Tough stuff.

The only other people I've ever known who dig this stuff are my mother and my grandmother. So if you're an old Italian lady, or just nuts like one the way I am, track this stuff down and give it a try, preferably while grilling a Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or something.

Bitter and Soda:
in a tumbler with ice, mix
1/3 Luxardo Bitter with
2/3 club soda
garnish with orange slice
(lime seltzer and Clementines make
a particularly nice touch)


in a tumbler with ice, mix
1/3 gin
1/3 sweet vermouth
1/3 Luxardo Bitter
garnish with orange slice
(steer clear of anybody else if you foolishly decide
to have two or three of these.
This poison is strong, boy.)

Bonus: Manhattan

in a tumbler with ice, mix
Old Overholt rye whiskey
splash of sweet vermouth
splash of Luxardro Maraschino liqueur
garnish with a real Maraschino cherry
(to hell with martini glasses and Bourbon,
a real Manhattan is made with rye and lives
on the rocks in a tumbler. Trust me, it's better this way.)


EricP said...

The Negroni is my favorite cocktail of all time. I'll have to give Luxardo a try. Thanks for the tip! Love the blog...

Kristin said...

Hmm...I've noticed Campari edging up in price as well. Does Downtown carry Luxardo?

matthew said...


a drink my father loves, which i of course used to make fun of him for, until i actually tried one and came to the same conclusion i come to more often than not these days...

he's right

Old School said...

Non solo per l'estate

Anonymous said...

And a Negroni with soda rather than gin is an Americano. Quite a nice thing to sip before dinner when you don't want to start trouble too early in the evening. But should you order an Americano, be sure to specify that you want the cocktail, because watery espresso is no way to whet the palate for a nice Bistecca.

Young Fogey said...

How long until some ignorant, self-righteous PC ideologue starts making a fuss about the the name Negroni? After all, niggardly is already off-limits, and there are even those who bristle at the figurative use of the term black hole.

I only wish I were kidding.

Language use aside, my old man has always enjoyed the dry Manhattan, which uses dry vermouth rather than sweet, and a twist instead of a cherry.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Luxardo Bitter. I enjoy Campari (especially with grapefruit juice), but it's so spendy these days!

The Two Magpies said...

Sorry to hear the price. In London, Campari hovers around the £12 mark ($18.50).

One way to make it last is through the Bicyclette. Lots of recipes tell you to go half-and-half with the Campari and white wine - Notably Fergus Henderson's arrangement in Nose to Tail. But Valentine Warner (another British chef with a penchant for tasteful cookbooks) recommended adding sparking mineral water to top up the glass - which I think is more refreshing.

Great site, by the way.

Two Magpies

Anonymous said...

next you need to try aperol and have a venetian spritz! a third aperol, a third prosecco and a third seltzer with an orange wedge. you can also do it with campari or luxardo just substitute the orange wedge with an olive

davidsl said...

oh, there is nothing better than a negroni on a hot day. i make up pitchers of the stuff! nice to know there is an alternative to campari. i'll be keeping my eye out for luxardo bitters.

Death in Venice said...

As a current resident of the Veneto, I couldn't pass up responding to this post. For a hot summer evening, nothing beats a Spritz Campari (dry white wine, soda, and Campari with an orange slice) and a bowl of potato chips. Another option for those who aren't into Campari is a Spritz Aperol (substitute Aperol liqueur for the Campari). Va bene!

Anonymous said...

Somebody serves Manhattans in martini glasses? Bizarre.

jjb said...

I'm with you on the manhattan - rye and a rocks glass, enough said.

M.K.O.R. said...

I love your blog and think the world of your style, but good god man - a proper Manhattan is stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass, served up. Your rocks are going to dilute that precious, precious rye!

W. Hines said...

Just payed $34.00 for my last bottle of Campari a few weeks ago. I'll see if I can find this and give it a try, although Campari does have the romantic appeal of Hemmingway novels.