Campari and I have never gotten along like we should. Campari & soda seemed like the best possible drink to sidle up to the bar and order, preferably if you’ve arrived late, and everyone else has ordered and then you show up and whisper something to the bartender and this deep red, slightly sparkling, completely Italian drink appears in your hand. But it is strong, bitter stuff. And soda does you no favors, remaining steely and sharp alongside the bitter. I was forced to conclude that the only way you can really drink it was if you planned on drinking nothing and just carried your glass around with you all night.

But yesterday I was digging through the archives at smittenkitchen, looking for inspiration for last night’s dinner party. I  found inspiration (from 2007, lemon risotto with scallops) and her recipe for a Campari-involved concoction.  And oh yes: this is it. Pink, sparkling, layers of sour, bitter, sharp, tangy and softy sweet at the end. It’s ideal as an apertif: when you have an empty stomach and are very worried about when dinner will start, but have only been offered a drink so far with maybe a nibble of cheese to mull over, asks for (demand) this.

Fill ¼ of the glass with campari

Fill a little over a  ¼ of the glass with soda

glass should be 1/2 full at this point.

Quick glug of sweet vermouth (it will say “Rouge” on the label.)

3 glugs of grapefruit juice

Lime for decorative purposes, I don’t think it’s gin-and-tonic essential here. As you can note in the picture, by “glass” I mean tumbler.

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