Back in 2011, I bought a bottle of Campari only to discover (with my eldest brother) how little I fancied it. Its bitterness was a slap with truly impressive follow-through: lingering far longer than expected or desired, like unwelcome houseguests.
Paul and I pondered the bottle, 750 mL like most any other spirt, and wondered how long it would last when we didn’t dare use more than half an ounce at a time – barring the time I made a bowl of punch and added a whopping 4 ounces for color and piquancy. We don’t often go in for aperitifs, and only rarely for digestifs.
Gin is like Mercury and Campari like Pluto, Paul remarked. A bottle of gin could last as long as a few months, or go down the hatch in a particularly lively night, as swift to disappear as Mercury hastens about the sun. Campari, consumed so much more slowly, has a lifespan of many gin-years.
How many, exactly?
Well. I couldn’t rightly say. A Campari year is at least 50, if not 72, gin years, but that’s only an estimate. All I know for sure is that, nearly six years later, we finished the last bit of Campari last night with this funny little pink thing:
2 oz gin (Aviation)
2 oz grapefruit juice
½ oz Campari
1 oz rhubarb syrup
Not sure what to call it, but I must say there’s something remarkably cohesive about those flavors and colors: bitter, but bright. Just the thing for when the weather’s getting as warm as it has.
The (solar) years, meanwhile, have mellowed me a bit where Campari is concerned. I’m now convinced that it’s a bit like olives: an acquired taste, best tried for the first time somewhere in Italy before dashing back Negronis every which way.
How long is your Campari year?