Campari & Tonic

Last week, I think it’s fair to say that I had more than my fair share of Gin & Tonics; over the course of two days, I tasted over 70 (I was judging at a competition). However, tonic does go with other liquor: the Vodka Tonic is another popular choice, and I developed a penchant for the Big Ben (Benedictine & Tonic) when I visited their distillery a few years back.

One base that I hadn’t previously considered, though, was Campari. Upon reflection, this is a bit surprising, given that one of my favourite mixed drinks is the Americano (Campari, red vermouth, and soda water). Thankfully, the folks at Campari are encouraging people to try this summer tipple and thus introduced me to the drink.

On the face of it, it seems like quite a likely combination; what I like in particular is that it’s simple, with ingredients that are easy to come by.

Camari Tonic

The recommended recipe calls for lime as the citrus garnish, but, having a host of citrus on hand, I wondered if the garnish would make much of a difference. For this experiment, we mixed 50ml Campari with 150ml tonic water* (the new Fevertree mini cans), and served each drink in identical glasses with the same quantity and shape of ice. The only variation was one wedge of the various citrus fruits, which were very lightly squeezed before being dunked into the glass.

Orange
Tangy with some sweet citrus which balances out much of the bitterness from the Campari. A good introduction to the drink for those that often find Campari too bitter.

Lime
The suggested recipe and the one with the most well-rounded character. Hints of vanilla and chocolate come through along with a little zesty tartness and a dry bitter finish.

Lemon
Extra tartness and zest with the lemon and some bitterness comes through too although overall as a drink it is more tart than bitter, lively and refreshing.

Ruby Grapefruit
Fragrant with some floral notes on the nose, a more complex and sophisticated drink with bright citrus oil as well as a focus on a long, extra bitter finish.

In Conclusion
Even though the citrus was a relatively minor change it had a remarkable impact on the flavour of the drink. whether you are looking for extra complexity a lighter sweeter offer or to beef up the bitterness it can all be done simply with the garnish. Day-to-day I’d personally choose the lime.

*Approximate ABV = 6.25% ABV