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Campari Old Fashioned – Bitter Lessons

5 from 5 votes

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pink cocktail with lemon
Campari Old Fashioned

Our other quarantine old fashioneds have been sweet, so let’s go bitter with a Campari Old Fashioned. If you’ve followed me for a while you know that I love playing with bitter elements in my cocktails. And not just with combinations of bitters, but with appertifs, digestifs and amari that come down on the bitter end of the scale. For this cocktail, I’m going to lean on Campari for a couple of reasons. First, it’s very bitter, and in small quantities brings a delightful citrus note along with that bitterness. Secondly, a lot of people have a bottle of it in their liquor cabinet, brought in for making negronis, boulevardiers or spritzes. Go check your liquor cabinet. It’s bright pink and it’s hard to miss!

[If you’d like to see the other Quarantine Old Fashioneds, we have the Breakfast Old Fashioned, the Home School Old Fashioned, the Taco Truck Old Fashioned and the Smoke and Spice Old Fashioned for your perusal.]

pink cocktail with lemon
Campari Old Fashioned

There are a lot of reasons to love the old fashioned. It’s an easy cocktail to play with and it’s a cocktail that doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment. For this specific riff, I wanted to kick up the bitter elements. Now one thing that I love about cocktails with a strong bitter element is that when served over ice, they change and evolve. This Campari old fashioned absolutely changes as you sip. As it dilutes down, the sharp, earthy bitterness fades a bit and more of the citrus tends to shine through.

I feel like we’re all learning some hard facts and we have reasons to be bitter about the world and the state of things, but that bitterness can also shine, like it does in this drink, and bring light to things in our lives which are going well, or at least, not as bad as it seems.

pink cocktail with lemon
Campari Old Fasioned
pink cocktail with lemon

Bitter Lessons Campari Old Fashioned

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Bitterness balances with sweet in this Campari old fashioned. Rather than add in bitters to the cocktail we use Campari to bring out citrus and bitter to blend with the whiskey. It’s a lovely twist that evolves as the ice melts and the the cocktail dilutes.
5 from 5 votes
Course Drinks
Cuisine whiskey cocktail
Servings 1


  • 1.5 oz rye whiskey
  • ½ oz Campari
  • ½ oz brown sugar simple syrup
  • Garnish: expressed lemon peel


  • Combine the rye, campari and simple syrup in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large cube. Express the lemon peel over the cocktail, then drop in the drink. This is a drink that rewards slow sippers. The complexity of the Campari shines over time as the bitterness is tamed by slight dilution.


For the brown sugar simple syrup, combine 1 cup of light brown sugar to 1 cup of warm water and stir or shake until the sugar dissolves. Store in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks, longer if you add a smidge of vodka to it.
Keyword campari, old fashioned, quarantine cocktail
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By on March 30th, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey and cocktail author (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.

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