Campari and Aperol are two iconic Italian aperitifs that people love. These bitter liqueurs have gained popularity worldwide, but what sets them apart?
In this post, we will delve into the origins, taste profiles, ingredients, serving suggestions, and more, to help you understand the differences between Campari and Aperol and decide which one suits your palate and cocktail preferences.
Table of Contents
What Is Campari?
Campari is an Italian bitter liqueur that dates back to 1860 when Gaspare Campari created the recipe in Novara, Italy.
It is made from a secret blend of herbs, fruits, and spices, resulting in a distinctively bitter and complex flavor.
Campari has a rich ruby red color, and its intense taste has made it a key ingredient in numerous classic cocktails.
What Is Aperol?
Aperol is an Italian apéritif, a type of alcoholic beverage traditionally consumed before a meal to stimulate the appetite. It was created in 1919 by the Barbieri brothers in Padua, Italy.
The main ingredients of Aperol are bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and a variety of herbs and spices. It has a relatively low alcohol content, usually around 11% by volume, which makes it a lighter option compared to other spirits.
Aperol is known for its bright orange color and bitter-sweet taste. The distinct flavor profile of Aperol has made it a versatile ingredient for various cocktails and mixed drinks. It can also be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
Differences Between Campari And Aperol
Origins And History
Campari’s history dates back over a century earlier than that of Aperol. The two liqueurs were created by different individuals in separate Italian cities.
Campari’s longer history has allowed it to establish a strong presence and a loyal following around the world. Aperol, on the other hand, gained popularity more recently, especially with the rise of the Aperol Spritz cocktail.
The Taste: Bitterness And Sweetness Levels
The most significant difference between Campari and Aperol lies in their taste profiles. Campari is renowned for its bold bitterness, which is both intense and complex. Its distinct flavor can be an acquired taste for some, but for those who appreciate bitter flavors, it offers a unique and satisfying experience.
Aperol is milder and sweeter compared to Campari. While it retains a gentle bitterness, it also presents strong citrus notes and a delicate sweetness. The balance of flavors in Aperol makes it more approachable to a wider range of palates, particularly those who are new to bitter liqueurs.
Campari boasts an eye-catching deep red color, which adds vibrancy and allure to cocktails. Its intense hue can be attributed to the addition of artificial coloring. Aperol, on the other hand, exhibits a captivating orange shade, which is completely natural.
The color of each liqueur can contribute to the visual appeal of a cocktail and influence the overall drinking experience.
Both Campari and Aperol rely on a combination of botanicals to achieve their distinctive flavors. Campari’s precise recipe remains a closely guarded secret, but it is known to contain a variety of herbs, spices, and fruits.
Aperol features bitter and sweet oranges, along with rhubarb and other botanicals. These unique ingredient profiles contribute to the different flavor profiles of the two liqueurs.
Campari has a higher alcohol content, ranging from 20% to 28% by volume. Aperol, on the other hand, has a lower alcohol content, usually around 11% by volume.
The differing alcohol levels can affect the strength of cocktails and the overall drinking experience.
Serving Suggestions And Pairings
Campari and Aperol are often enjoyed as aperitifs, often served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
Campari is popularly used in cocktails such as the classic Negroni, Americano, and Boulevardier. Its intense bitterness adds depth and complexity to these drinks.
Aperol is widely recognized as the key ingredient in the refreshing Aperol Spritz, which combines Aperol, prosecco, and soda water. Aperol’s lighter and citrusy flavor profile makes it an ideal base for lighter cocktails.
When it comes to pricing, Aperol is considered more affordable than Campari.
The exact prices vary depending on your location and the specific retailer, but Aperol tends to be more budget-friendly.
Campari’s higher price often reflects its longer history and premium status among bitter liqueurs.
Popular Cocktails Made With Campari And Aperol
Campari and Aperol are both versatile ingredients that feature in several popular cocktails.
Some notable Campari-based cocktails are:
- Negroni: Made of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth
- Americano: A combination of Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water
- Boulevardier: A drink consisting of Campari, bourbon, and sweet vermouth
Aperol’s signature cocktail is the Aperol Spritz, a refreshing blend of Aperol, prosecco, and soda water. This effervescent and citrusy drink has gained immense popularity in recent years and is often enjoyed during warm summer days.
Aperol can also be used in other cocktails such as:
- Aperol Sour: A mix of Aperol, lemon juice, and simple syrup
- Aperol Negroni: A blend of Aperol, gin, and sweet vermouth
Which One Is More Versatile?
Both Campari and Aperol offer versatility in cocktails, but Campari’s bold bitterness and complex flavor profile make it a more challenging ingredient to work with.
Campari’s distinctive taste can dominate in a cocktail, making it a better fit for those who enjoy intense bitter flavors.
On the other hand, Aperol’s milder taste and citrusy notes lend themselves well to a broader range of cocktail creations.
Which One Should You Choose?
The choice between Campari and Aperol ultimately comes down to personal preference and the type of flavor experience you seek.
If you appreciate intense bitterness and a complex flavor profile, Campari is a fantastic option. However, if you prefer a lighter, sweeter, and more approachable taste, Aperol might be the better choice for you.
Experimenting with both liqueurs in various cocktails helps you determine which one resonates with your palate.
Which is better, Campari or Aperol?
The question of which is better, Campari or Aperol, is subjective and depends on personal taste preferences. Campari offers a more intense bitterness and complex flavor profile, while Aperol is milder, sweeter, and citrusy.
We recommend trying it both and decide which one suits your palate and cocktail preferences.
Can Campari and Aperol be used interchangeably in cocktails?
Campari and Aperol have distinct flavor profiles, and while they can sometimes be used interchangeably, it may significantly alter the taste of the cocktail.
It is best to follow specific recipes that call for either Campari or Aperol to achieve the desired flavor balance.
Are Campari and Aperol alcoholic?
Yes, both Campari and Aperol are alcoholic spirits. Campari has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 20.5%, while Aperol has a slightly lower ABV of 11%.
Is Aperol or Campari better for a Negroni?
Traditionally, Campari is the key ingredient in a Negroni cocktail, along with gin and sweet vermouth. The bold and bitter profile of Campari complements the other ingredients, resulting in a well-balanced and classic cocktail.
While some variations of the Negroni use Aperol instead of Campari, it alters the flavor profile, making it lighter and sweeter.
Ultimately, the choice between Campari and Aperol for a Negroni depends on personal preference.
Does Aperol Spritz taste like Campari?
Aperol Spritz and Campari have different flavor profiles. Aperol Spritz has a lighter, citrusy taste with a gentle bitterness and a hint of sweetness, making it a refreshing and popular choice for summer. On the other hand, Campari has a more pronounced bitterness with herbal and citrus notes.
Why is Aperol Spritz so popular?
Several factors contribute to its rise in popularity.
- Color: Its bright orange color and attractive presentation in a wine glass make it visually appealing.
- Taste:Its refreshing taste and lower alcohol content make it a light and easy-to-drink option, particularly during warm weather.
- Marketing: The Aperol brand has actively marketed the Spritz, promoting it as a trendy and fashionable drink, further enhancing its popularity.
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- orange twist or slice for garnish
- Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth to the glass.
- Stir gently for about 20-30 seconds to mix and chill the ingredients.
- Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with an orange twist or slice. Serve and enjoy!