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Campari vs Aperol Liqueurs: What’s the Difference? (2023)

Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Campari and Aperol are two liqueurs widely used in different cocktail drinks because of their beautiful bright colors and taste.

However, if you plan to expand your home bar by one bottle, which one should you choose? 

Here’s a comprehensive comparison of Campari vs Aperol. Read on.  

Aperol & Campari Bitter Italian Liqueurs Compared

Woman Holding Bottles of Campari and Aperol

Campari was invented in Italy by Gaspare Campari in 1860, while in 1919, another family developed Aperol, which also came from Italy. 

Campari boasts higher alcohol content, while the Barbieri brothers created an aperitivo with lower alcohol content but without sacrificing the flavor. 

From a distance, Aperol and Campari are quite similar, but if you look closely, Campari is bright red while Aperol flashes a bright orange color. 

The bitter liqueurs are known for their complex flavors, but Aperol is on a lower bitterness scale than Campari.

You can mix it in cocktails or drink it as an aperitif before a meal.  

Key Differences 

History & Origin

Bottle of Campari with liquor bottles on the background

In the 1800s, the taverns around Northern Italy boasted their in-house aperitivo, and it was in 1860 when Gaspare Campari created the Campari Bitter. 

After Gasopare Campari created the liqueur, he began selling it in Milan, and soon after it became popular, his son took over and opened his bar. 

When types and brands of aperitif soon followed, Aperol joined the craze in 1919, and Luigi and Silvio Barbieri developed it. In 2003, the Campari group bought Aperol. 

Region

Campari was crafted in Novara, Italy, where many taverns have their version of aperitivo created by local bartenders. 

On the other hand, the Barbieri siblings developed their orange liqueur in Padova, Italy, which is also in Northern Italy.  

Bitterness Level

In Campari vs Aperol, both Aperol and Campari have bitter flavors, but Aperol has a lighter approach, making it less bitter than Campari. 

Both spirits are known for the layers of botanical elements, but Aperol is fruitier and more balanced in flavor than Campari. 

Taste & Flavor

Pouring liqueur on a glass with ice

Campari is known for its bittersweet palate, subdued by flavors of clove, citrus, cherry, orange peel, cinnamon, cascarilla, and rhubarb spices.

It has a subtle floral aroma and boasts a rich finish. 

Meanwhile, Aperol has a lighter approach with zesty, sweet, citrus, and bitter herbs and spices.

It is sweet with approachable bitterness and a touch of wood, citrus, fruits, and vanilla.  

Aperol has a more balanced flavor profile than Campari, but both have an underlying bittersweet palate that mixes great in classic cocktails. 

Read: Top Prosecco Options For Aperol Spritz

Color 

Campari has a crimson red color, and its mesmerizing color comes from the natural dye of crushed cochineal insects.

However, the company switched to using artificial colors because of the uncertainty in supply [1]. 

On the contrary, Aperol’s bright orange hue from artificial coloring makes it very distinct. However, you can hardly see the difference when mixed in cocktail drinks. 

Alcohol Content

Campari and Aperol have different alcohol contents. Campari has higher alcohol content than Aperol.

Campari’s ABV ranges from 20-28%, depending on the location where you purchased the bottle. 

In North America, it is bottled at 24% ABV, while in African countries, it is around 20.5%. In Eastern Europe and most European countries, Campari sits at 25% – 28.5%. 

On the other hand, Campari Aperol features 11% ABV, just the same as Prosecco and other wines, and significantly low compared to whiskey, vodka, gin, and tequila. 

Uses

Close Up Shot of Aperol Bottle

Aperol and Campari can be enjoyed as an aperitif before a meal, but it is widely used in cocktails. 

Campari is a featured ingredient in Negroni, but there are other cocktails you can mix in the liqueur. 

Other Campari cocktails are the Americano (from Caffe Campari in Milan), Boulevardier, Jungle Bird, and Old Pal. 

“Make sure to taste before you serve. It’s the only way you can understand the balance of flavors in your creation.”

– David Lombardo, Wine/Beverage Director of Landmarc

Mix it with sweet vermouth, gin, or whiskey to make a nice cocktail recipe

Aperol Spritz is a popular cocktail drink. It mixes prosecco, sparkling wine, soda water, and an orange slice. 

Mix it in club soda, orange juice, and distilled spirits [2] to make a delicious cocktail.

Can You Substitute Aperol With Campari In Cocktails? 

making cocktail drink

Yes, you can substitute Aperol with Campari in cocktails. 

However, while they are similar in many ways, there are differences in sweetness, bitterness, and herbs which may not create the same drink as the classic recipe. 

FAQs 

Is Aperol or Campari better for a Negroni?

Campari is better for Negroni. While Negroni with Aperol is tasty and light, Campari tastes better and offers a distinct profile. 

Which is sweeter, Campari or Aperol?

Aperol is sweeter than Campari. It has higher sugar content which makes the liqueur more approachable. 

Can you use Campari instead of Aperol in a Spritz?

Yes, you can use Campari in a Spritz instead of Aperol, especially if you find Spritz too sweet. However, note that it will intensify your Spritz and give you more buzz. 

Final Thoughts 

Campari and Aperol belong to Gruppo Campari but if you need to choose between the two, go with Campari.

Aperol is light, fruity, and soft, but Campari has a bolder profile, higher ABV, and vibrant color that can make your cocktail more vibrant and delectable. 

References:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/dining/drinks/campari-color-aperitif-aperitivo.html 
  2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/distilled-spirit 

Lisa Dimarco

Lisa is a freelance lifestyle writer specializing in nightlife, leisure, and celebration. She has been in the field for eight years and has written articles featured in various local blogs and lifestyle magazines. For Lisa, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink after a rough day (she’s not fussy). But she also likes to get a bit fancy every now and then. She believes you can never go wrong with a Moscow Mule or a classic Daiquiri anywhere you go. Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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