behind the bardrinksentertainingFood & Drinkkristina gillrecipes

behind the bar: elizabeth minchilli’s shaken campari

by Kristina Gill

I’m not a drinker, so I was a bit out of my element when I started filling in for Ryan and Alyssa on this column while they take a break. When I photograph food for In the Kitchen With, I obviously have to make it first, and I taste it to ensure that it comes out okay and is good. With cocktails, I have no point of reference! This week, Rome-based author Elizabeth Minchilli shares her Shaken Campari, which is based on the popular aperitif Campari Soda. Now that I’ve had. So I could taste, and guess what? She’s done a great job of making it a “grown up’s drink.” I opted to use pomegranate molasses here to vary it a bit from our previous blood orange cocktails. — Kristina

About Elizabeth: Elizabeth Minchilli has been eating her way through Rome since she was 12 years old. After living here as a child with her parents, she moved back in 1988, and has been exploring Italy — its culture and especially its cuisine — ever since. She’s the author of six books and has written for over 40 magazines including Food & Wine, Saveur and Bon Appetit. She has appeared on TV, including Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie and is currently working on a book of Italian cocktails. Elizabeth is also the author of the popular blog Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome and two best-selling apps: Eat Rome and Eat Florence. Elizabeth also leads delicious and fun food tours and food workshops.

The full recipe continues after the jump . . .

Shaken Campari


  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1.5 oz Campari
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice or a tsp of pomegranate molasses



Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake hard for about ten seconds, until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass and serve.

With its bright, clear color, this is one drink that I don’t think needs any garnish.

Why Elizabeth Loves This Cocktail

I really thought I knew everything when it came to classic Italian cocktails. Negroni, Americano, Bellini . . . there was little that could surprise me. But the other night, in Florence, a bright ruby red drink, in a martini glass, showed up in front of my friend Alessandro. A Shaken Campari. Somehow it had never crossed my path before. When I tasted it, it was as cold as it looked, and the Campari’s bitterness had been tamed by having been shaken and so diluted a bit before pouring. Kind of like a Campari soda, but not fizzy and so more grown up altogether. Back home in Rome, me being me, I thought I could make it even better. Here’s my slightly fruitier — and decidedly stronger — version.

Suggested For You


  • Okay, am I the only one who hate Campari? I decided to be adventurous one night and order a Campari + soda. WORST THING EVER. I forced everyone at my table to try it (none of them had ever tasted one either) and they all agreed. Are we totally missing something???

  • Jess – it’s a bitter liquor that requires some time to grow on you. It’s good paired with orange things. Try it with Orangina or a blood orange soda from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. YUM!

  • Campari is definitely an acquired taste. But once you acquire it….definitely worth it! And Molly is correct, best to begin using it with already sweet mixers like orange juice or a mixture of other citrus.

  • The bitter taste is KILLER! Try it with a dry Prosecco in a champagne flute. Pretty, tasty, and you’ll walk on clouds!

  • If the bitterness of Campari is too much for you, try Aperol instead – it’s similar but slightly milder and sweeter. Aperol with prosecco is an Aperol Spritz – yum!

  • @Maggie: I got the ice tongs on ebay. They are a Swedish pattern. Look for “Nils Johan” I think Are they ice or sugar tongs? I can’t remember that either.

    @Yeshen: The tray is from Fog Linen, the bowl is from mud australia in color “safari” which I do not believe they make any more.

  • I am not a Campari fan, but last March my friend Cristina had me try an Aperol Spritz. Loved it! Perfect for a warm evening.

  • I love Campari and recently had an exquisite grapefruit Campari gelato in Philadelphia. This inspired me to mix Campari and grapefruit soda (I used Gus’s Star Ruby Grapefruit soda) on the rocks with lime. It was delicious and perfect for Spring/Summer!