I got a lead on Crodino from Billy of Billy’s Booze Blog, so first off, my thanks to him.
Crodino is a non-alcoholic aperitif made by the Campari Group. It gets its name from Crodo, the area in north-west Predmont where the product has been bottled since 1964. According to their website, Crodino is the most consumed and most famous non-alcoholic aperitif in Italy.
Under the brand “Crodo”, Campiri make Chuotto (a citrus and cinchona mix), Lemonsoda, Oransoda, Pelinosoda, Tonicsoda and Mojitosoda. All of these are non-alcoholic.
Campari also make Campari & Soda (this was very popular in Italy and available in small flasks), as well as Aperol & Soda and a premixed Cinzano.
I was interested in Crodino as a drink, but in addition, given the nature of this site, it’s mixer potential appealed immensely.
Crodino is a bright shade of rust-orange, similar to the Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru. There is certainly a bitter-sweet character to it. Very sweet and syrupy at the beginning, with hints of vanilla and a touch of orange. After this comes the herbal bitter notes which are good way to round off the drink. For me, this was best served with lots of ice and a squirt of citrus fruit.
Sixteen Rum Cocktail
After some investigation, it appears that the signature cocktail for Crodino is the Sixteen Rum.
The name apparently comes from a Count in Piedmont who served this drink to attract young and fashionable guests to his home. The cocktail then became popular with the elite and the more sophisticated circles of Italy, especially at receptions and parties. It is said that the drink is offered as a token of esteem and as a wish of success to guests (mainly in the field of love).
25ml Martini Rosso
Lemon Wedge, squeezed
This was delicious: the balance of the vermouth and Crodino, with some freshness added by the lemon and fortification, is just right. It’s worth experimenting, but I’d recommended a light rum for this drink. The perfect drink to welcome guests and completely refreshing.
A variation, known as Old Sixteen Rum, uses 5 yr old Martini Rosso and Bacardi Lemon-flavoured Rum. This is popular at reunions of old friends and is thought to bring back memories of good times past. Apparently it goes very well with a cigar.
Gin & Crodino
50ml Dry Gin, 100ml Crodino
I used Taurus Gin, a good staple of the London Dry category, and mixed the drink as I would a Gin & Tonic. Sadly, the Crodino was too sweet for even a dry gin and the resulting mix was rather sickly.
Crodino & It
Equal parts Red Vermouth & Crodino
A simple drink, which was refreshing with a slice of orange or lemon and created a very enjoyable and refreshing aperitif. The vermouth takes the sweet edge of the Crodino, but does not cover up its other flavours and complements the mixer’s taste with some more bitter herbal notes.
25ml Gin, 25ml Campari & 100ml Crodino
.Inspired by the fact that the sweetness in the Crodino needs a little taming, I added Campari to the mix. This produced a superior drink, with the the bitter-sweet element of a drink like a Campari & Soda. Fruity and herbal, the drink improves further with the squeeze of a lemon wedge.
Dry & Wry
25ml Grappa, Juice of half a lemon, 100ml Crodino
This was originally meant to be a Collins-type drink. I thought that the addition of sugar syrup would be unnecessary and wanted to make it more Italian, so I subbed the gin for Grappa.
Dryness comes form the Grappa, tartness from the lemon and a bitter-sweetness from the Crodino. It is complex and fruity with hints of fruit, fruit stone and almond.
This is definitely a different sort of drink and, in its own way, very refreshing; it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but maybe for a more seasoned palette it will be a delight. It has a pleasant aftertaste, but it’s a clean one and so doesn’t impact the flavour of what you might be supping next.
Mrs. B described it (in what I’m told is a good way?) as a “taste onslaught”.
I think Crodino is a great product and is great fun to experiment with. I’m not sold on how much I like it as a soft drink (it just seems to sweet), although, with a bit of lemon juice and ice, it become quite palatable (and remains non-alcoholic).
In cocktails, it works well with those that can add some extra bitterness (Campari, Vermouth, Aperol) or tartness (citrus juice). Without question, my favourite drink was the Sixteen Rum and the Dry & Wry.
Thanks to Billy, Alex, Duncan and all the folks at the Whisky Exchange for you enthusiasm, inspiration and encouragement in writing this article.
Crodino is available in an eight pack of 10cl Bottles for £5.95 at the Whisky Exchange