Italian amari aren’t exactly known for changing with the times. In fact, that’s a huge part of their appeal. Virtually every corner of Italy has its own version of the herbal liqueurs, often with decades, if not centuries, of history.
It’s rare that a stalwart like Campari introduces a new bottle, so when they do, we pay attention. Campari Cask Tales is a beautiful counterpart to the original. It’s the same classic Campari formula, but finished in bourbon barrels—a welcome play on the aperitif we know and love.
Campari purists will find the predominant flavors intact: bright and bitter, with that vivid red hue. There’s an added smoothness around the edges and a bit of softening oak, making the Cask Tales awfully sippable neat.
But it’s even more fun in cocktails, of course. Here are three drinks that really showcase the liqueur’s bitter complexity and subtle bourbon-cask character.
Easy: Orange-Campari Spritz
Look at that color; even more eye-catching than an Aperol Spritz, right? Since Campari and orange are such a classic combination, we’re backing up the Cask Tales with a rich, high-proof orange liqueur (try Cointreau). Top it with bubbles and you’ve got a complex, refreshingly bitter spritz balanced out by the slight sweetness of orange.
Instructions: In a wine glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of Campari Cask Tales, half an ounce of orange liqueur, and three ounces of sparkling wine. Garnish with three orange half-moons.
Intermediate: Americano Collins
The Italians have known it forever: Campari and sweet vermouth are a perfect pair. Their bitter, sweet, and herbaceous elements balance and complement each other in drinks like the Negroni, the Americano, and the Sbagliato. We’re taking that duo and making it into a Collins—a tall drink with citrus and soda—using both lemon and orange. This one’s perfect for those still getting to know Campari; the bitterness is subtle, not dominant.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine one ounce Campari Cask Tales, half an ounce sweet vermouth, half an ounce of fresh orange juice and a quarter-ounce of fresh lemon. Shake until very well-chilled, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of soda and stir briefly. Garnish with three lemon wheels and a long, curved orange peel.
Advanced: Vodka Negroni
We’re huge gin fans, and the Negroni is a perfect cocktail in its own right. But there’s no harm in playing with the form.
Gin adds its own battalion of herbaceous flavors to a Negroni. Vodka, on the other hand, is a far simpler spirit that lets Campari’s own botanicals shine, all the better to appreciate the nuance in the Cask Tales. The resulting cocktail may deviate slightly from the original, but is still just as boozy, balanced, and drinkable as the classic.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of Campari Cask Tales, an ounce of vodka, and an ounce of sweet vermouth. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge, squeezed into the glass before serving.
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