I keep coming back to Campari over and over again, not too often but regularly because i really appreciate this bitter and very special tasting aperitif.

It goes perfectly with all kinda citrus fruits and traditionally its the lemon and orange that is used, naturally since that`s what`s growing in Italy – the home land off Campari. Did i say that one of my heros is Gaspare Campari?

As an aperitif with soda, orange or lemon its an aquired taste for many, but there are also many who loves it – me included. As a cocktail ingredient its both challenging and rewarding, and in the right place it can make some fantastic cocktails.

It goes very well with dark rum, gin, tequila – well most spirits actually but especially with those that also goes well with citrus. So how about Campari in tiki drinks? The classic tiki drink with Campari is of course the Jungle Bird, to be found on page 44 in “Intoxica” by Beachbum Berry but is there anything else?

There has been so much written already about Campari in other types of drinks like the negroni or Campari and dark rums but not very much about tiki drinks and there isn´t very much info to find either.

I went out to search..and ended up with the conclusion that if i want a  tiki drink with Campari other than the Jungle Bird or an occasional something i need to invent them myself. .not even in tiki central i found anything much..and that means there´isn`t anything much then.

So eventually, i ended up making these two cocktails:



1.5 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

0.5 oz aged rhum agricole, (like Clemènt VSOP)

0.5 oz Campari

1 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz *limone rosso (or regular lemon)

0.25 oz fresh lime

0.5 oz rich demerara syrup (2:1 demerara sugar and water)

1 tsp hibiscus grenadine

crushed ice

For garnish – 2 small pineapple leaves, 1 cherry, 2 lemon quarters, speared

Shake all ingredients and strain into a rocks glass filled to the brim with crushed ice and garnish with the speared fruits.

This is a grown-up drink…the rhum agricole flavor is nicely blending with the bitterness of the Campari and the sugarcane and molasses from the Jamaican rum is steady in the background. Its much flavors in this drink, but its not no easy flavors since both Campari and rhum agricole isn´t “easy” neither of them.

*Limone rosso is a lemon variety i recently found in our nursery, it has reddish and wrinkled skin and inside it looks a bit different too from the regular lemon.

The fragrance is also stronger and slightly more perfumed. I also found out by tasting the juices from both lemons that the rosso is much more aromatic, mellower and somewhat less sour.

I´m gonna make a tincture with this lemon and its peel, would be interesting to see how that would turn out. Booze nerds are always on the hunt for new flavors..and into experimenting with the sometimes most unlikely flavors.

I like this dink but i cannot say if the limone rosso makes the mixed drink more aromatic compared to a reular lemon but i know i did the taste test before with the juices alone and the rosso was more aromatic, perfumed and also sweeter and not so astringent tart as the regular lemon.

This is a fresh drink and packs a rummy punch as well. But you gotta like both Campari and rhum agricole to really appreciate this cocktail. After a while when the drink “settles” with the ice the flavors comes through mellower and quite wonderfully.


On the left side is the ordinary lemon and rosso on the right. I think the regular lemon looks quite boring and sleepy in comparaison..

Of course i needed to use it for my cocktails! i accuired my lemon by picking it up from the ground where it had fallen from the bush. I wish it was a staple in our grocery…but i guess i´ll need to buy one of the plants if i want to have more of it.

Cocktail number two uses rye and Campari and turned out very nice.


Muddle 1 small piece of Mexican canela (cinnamon) with 0.5 oz sugarcane syrup (Petit Canne) and 4-5 chunks of fresh pineapple, then add:


1 oz Rittenhouse bonded

1 oz Campari

0.25 oz lemon juice (limone rosso if possible)

a very small sprinkle of fresh lime

Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon quarter and a leaf.

This drink has a balanced mellow flavor and is a very nice cocktail indeed – at least to my palate. The rye, lemon and Campari mixes wonderfully. One i will make again.

And so we come to the last tiki style drink with Campari and this one is a swizzle. Its a twist on the negroni swizzle (made by Giuseppe Gonzalez at Painkiller in New York) turning it from negroni to a rum-swizzle type drink but with both rum and gin.



1 oz  gin (Martin Miller`s)

0.5 oz Pusser´s overproof

1 oz Campari

0.5 oz lemon juice (limone rosso if possible)

0.25 oz lime juice

0.5 oz pineapple syrup

1tsp hibiscus syrup

1 oz club soda

Fill a large glass or tiki mug with crushed ice and swizzle with a swizzle stick until frosty. Garnish with lemon peel.

I would define this campariliscious and bitterly fresh with strong undertones…if that makes any sense. I believe that if you like Campari you`ll like this.

I`ve gotten to really like the combo Campari-Pusser`s – the Pusser`s goes fantastic with Campari and then in this drink, there´s a background of an almost floral flavor of the gin that is excellent. One could also use Smith & Cross in this.

Add a straw, sip and enjoy!



  1. I’ve been playing with Aperol instead of Campari for a bit more citrus…

  2. Not a huge Campari fan, maybe it’s the beetles? But do enjoy the Suffering Bastard! Most of the times I look for a sub to give me more layers, Aperol, Averna, even Fernet Branca, I find Campari is good for bitter and color, nothing in the middle.

  3. Makes sense Tony! i really would like to visit sometimes and try out all the fresh cocktails you guys makes in Brazil, you seem to have fruits like nobody else!

  4. That really depends on the style of cocktail you intend to use it in.
    As I’m here in Brazil I get asker a lot to prepare caipirinhas with a twist and I don’t want to strain them because a lot of people enjoy the seeds or bits of fruit in the glass.
    In this case I fine strain before shaking so I can get the seeds of Dedo de Moça out. The seed can be very very hot and I don’t want them in peoples glasses, but I do want the fruit.
    If the drink is going to be fine strained after shaking, there is no need for straining before shaking.
    Not a lot of mistery to it, just a different context and market i guess.

  5. Yum Tony! i also use ginger sometimes and i like it a lot. But why do you strain the chili after you muddle it and before shaking? don`t you just muddle in the shaker directly and add the rest after, shake it all and then double strain after shaking? of course it works that way too but i`m just curious? it seems to be an extra step?

  6. Oh yeah, campari and aperol are pretty different.

    For the chilly and passion i usually use fresh passion fruit.

    Muddle a small piece of chilly and add the spirit(s) to it. In the meantime prepare the rest of the drink, cut the passion fruit, measure the other ingredients etc. The last thing to do is to fine strain the chilly + spirit while you add it to the shaker. Shake well and strain again if you dont want the passion fruit seeds.

    The spirit will pick up enough flavors to lighten up the drink but not burn too much. Quite aromatic too.

    The chilly syrup is something we´ve been doing lately to speed things up a bit, but for one drink the previous method works very well. Since you only use a little chilly, the rests goes in as garnish.

    I do the same thing with ginger and works pretty nicely too.

  7. Tony, chili and passionfruit sounds good!never tried that yet.What do you do with them? muddle the chili and use passionfruit juice and syrup?

    Campari and Aperol are quite different despite the similarities, Campari is so much more “heavy” and bitter compared to Aperol`s light fruitiness.

  8. Cant say I have experimented much with campari in rum tiki style drinks, but this is tempting! Aperol in the other hand is a regular in my tiki mug.

    @BO: The mango + chilly really make for an amazing combo indeed! Ginger is friendly here too.
    We make a lot of drinks using chilly style peppers combined with passion fruit aswell. Almost made for each other. We use a variety called Dedo de Moça herehere (the most common in my area).

  9. Sunny&Rummy – that sounds very reasonable, i also would not like the campari to dominate over such a good rum as Smith & Cross. I will try it out!

  10. I tried the Bitter Mai Tai recipe Nick linked to last night. Pretty good, but I think I’ll try it again with equal parts Campari and Smith and Cross — the 1.5 oz of Campari made it just a tad too Campari-dominated to my palate.

  11. Nick – i saw that drink! yes it`s interesting, i`m gonna try it sometimes.

    Sunny&Rummy – it´s not possible to be tired of negroni…;-D

  12. Fresh bottle of Campari at the ready. As soon as I get tired of Negronis (not sure that’s possible), I now have some more drinks to try out. Thanks!

  13. @Kevin – thank you!

    @Bo -for a clear red drink, just switch the dark rums i`ve used for a white. Your mango-chili syrup sounds yummy! i`m gonna make it as soon as i can find either mangoes from pakistan or Funkin`or Monin.

    Damon @ Let’s Tiki – a good idea, but be prepared that campari is an aquired taste and if you don`t like it the first time, give another chance and another after that. Start with making something simple, like campari and soda. 2 oz campari, (a little lemon or lime juice squeeze , not part of the recipe but i like it) and top up with soda. Large ice chunks and orange or lemon slice in the glass. Sip slowly and fall in love with campari…or not – it`s like or no like drink.

    @jack, i believe that the common long red one (we call it Spanish chili here) that is not so hot is the best to use for muddling since you do want some chili flavor and a hint of heat but not too much heat.

    A hot chili like habanero for example is better suited for careful infusion of say tequila.

  14. @Tiare – That’s good to know. I’ll be sure to try it a few times. The Campari and soda with a little fresh lemon or lime sounds like a great way to start. Thanks for the suggestion. It’s funny, I don’t really care for absinthe or Pernod, but in a Tiki drink it’s great! So, maybe that’ll be the case with Campari. I’ll have to do some experimenting.

  15. @Tiara – I was looking for a non-red drink, but still with a twist of campari in it. So dark rum is fine, its the color of campari I would like to have an alternativ to.

  16. Hi Jack,

    I must say, I don’t know much about chili. I just buy the standard red one in my supermarket. (I dont think it is that strong). I muddle perhaps 1-1,5 inch chili togehter with 5 oz. mangosyrup. The mango syrup is just the one from Monin, since fresh mango isnt always as good as they should be. (If you have funkin mango, you can however make a really nice mango-chili syrup.)

    Next week i’ll try that recipe with a mango-ginger syrup, think it will work just fine.

  17. Bo — your Mango+chili syrup: any specific chili? Or do you use your favorite flavor of heat?

  18. I’m still learning a lot about rum and Tiki drinks. I haven’t experimented with Campari yet. After reading your post I think I’m going to have to pick some up and give these recipes a try.

  19. Campari is also one of my absolut favorits. Would how ever like to have an clear version/alternativ, since it really adds some red color to the drink. (you can man a fantastic pink drink with campari, but most guys will pick something else to due the color..)

    1/3 Pink grapefruit, 1/3 Campari, 1/6 Mango+chili syrup and 1/6 lemon juice. Shake it with ice… One of my monthly campari-drinks 🙂

  20. Thank you for the Ula Ula Punch recipe; it’s really delicious (I ended up making a 2nd right away once I finished the 1st one). I have a bottle of Campari but I’m not a big fan of the Jungle Bird. I think your drink has the balance the Bird lacks. Plus any excuse to use Smith & Cross is a good one. 🙂

  21. Josh – i get thirsty by just reading it!

    Thanks Geoff! the recipe looks very tasty! and a bit unusual with both San Germain,Campari and rose syrup in the same drink! plus LH151..

  22. Recently at the WAITIKI Festival of Exotica and Cocktails in Boston Randy Wong and Aaron Butler of the Russell House Tavern offered:


    2oz Montanya Platino Rum
    ¾oz fresh lemon juice
    ¾oz St. Germain
    ½oz Rose simple syrup
    ¼oz Campari
    Lemon Hart 151 float

    Shake and strain over crushed ice. Float Lemon Hart on top!

    (Damn good!)

  23. I feel the same way. For some reason every time I press a grapefruit I want to add Campari to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *