Campari apéritif is still produced according to the original 1860 recipe created by Gaspare Campari in Novara, Italy. According to the company, only one person has access to the formula in its entirety. What is known is that Campari is an infusion of 60 different herbs, spices, gentian and orris root, angostura and cascarilla bark, aromatic botanicals and fruit—primarily lemons and bitter oranges—and alcohol. Its trademark deep red hue was originally obtained using carmine dye, which is derived from cochineal insects. In 2006, the extract was replaced with an alternative coloring.
The 48-proof apéritif has crystalline clarity, a striking crimson hue and a silky, light to medium-weight body. As one would expect, Campari is highly aromatic with a balanced array of bitter earthy aromas and spicy semisweet fragrance. Its complex bouquet is both intriguing and amazingly satisfying. The apéritif quickly fills the mouth with a wondrous blast of warmth that bathes the palate with waves of dry, spicy, slightly bitter herbaceous flavors. As they slowly fade the presence of the bitter citrus makes its way to the forefront. The combined effect is glorious.