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Campari vs Aperol Liqueurs: What’s the Difference? (2024)

Campari vs Aperol

Last Updated on March 2, 2024 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. 

But what does Campari taste like?

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. 

Read: Campari vs Vermouth

Frequently Asked Questions (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. 

Can Aperol be substituted for Campari?

While Aperol and Campari share a similar vibrant color and bitter profile, they have distinct flavor profiles, and substituting one for the other can alter the taste of a cocktail; Aperol is lighter, sweeter, and less bitter, making it a milder alternative to the bold and intensely bitter Campari.

Which is better: Campari or Aperol?

The preference between Campari and Aperol is subjective and depends on individual taste; Campari, with its bold bitterness and complex herbal flavors, appeals to those who enjoy a more intense experience, while Aperol’s lighter, citrusy sweetness is favored by those seeking a milder aperitif.

Why is Campari so expensive?

Campari’s relatively high price is attributed to its unique and secret blend of herbs, spices, and fruit peels, combined with a meticulous production process, which includes a lengthy maceration period; its iconic bright red hue and distinctive taste contribute to its premium positioning in the market.

What does Campari taste like?

Campari boasts a distinctive taste characterized by a bold bitterness complemented by herbal, citrus, and fruity notes; the exact recipe is a well-guarded secret, but it is known for its complex and intriguing flavor profile, making it a key component in classic cocktails like the Negroni and the Americano.

Is Negroni better with Aperol or Campari?

The preference between Aperol and Campari in a Negroni is subjective, as it hinges on personal taste; traditionalists favor the bold bitterness of Campari, while those seeking a milder and sweeter variation may opt for Aperol, creating a Negroni that leans towards a brighter, citrus-infused profile.

What is Campari good for?

Campari is a versatile spirit that finds application in various cocktails, notably the iconic Negroni and the refreshing Campari and Soda; its unique combination of bitter and herbal flavors, coupled with a vibrant red hue, makes it a crucial ingredient in mixology, elevating classic drinks and inspiring inventive creations.

Is Campari similar to Negroni?

Campari and Negroni are related but distinct entities; Campari is a bitter liqueur, while Negroni is a cocktail comprising Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth; Campari contributes its signature bitterness and complex flavor to the Negroni, creating a well-balanced and iconic drink with a perfect blend of herbal, citrusy, and juniper notes.

Is Campari sweet or bitter?

Campari is renowned for its bitter profile, a defining characteristic that sets it apart; its bitterness is complemented by a unique combination of herbs, spices, and fruit peels, creating a complex and intriguing flavor profile that is both bitter and subtly sweet, contributing to its versatility in various cocktails.

Can you drink Campari straight?

While Campari is traditionally enjoyed in cocktails for its unique bitter profile, some individuals appreciate sipping it neat or over ice; its complex blend of herbs, spices, and fruit peels, coupled with its bold bitterness, provides a distinctive and acquired taste for those who enjoy a more intense flavor experience.

How to drink Campari?

Campari’s versatility allows for various serving options; beyond being a key component in classic cocktails like the Negroni or the Campari and Soda, it can be enjoyed over ice with a splash of soda or as part of creative mixology, highlighting its bitter and herbal notes while balancing with complementary ingredients.

Is Campari a spirit or wine?

Campari is classified as a spirit, specifically a bitter liqueur; it falls within the category of spirits or liqueurs due to its infusion of various botanicals, herbs, and spices in a base alcohol, resulting in its signature bitter flavor and vibrant red color.

Is Campari a brandy or whiskey?

Campari is neither a brandy nor a whiskey; it is a unique and distinctive type of spirit known as a bitter liqueur. Unlike brandy, which is distilled from fermented fruit juice, or whiskey, which is distilled from fermented grain mash, Campari undergoes a maceration process where a secret blend of herbs, spices, and fruit peels is infused into a neutral alcohol base, creating its characteristic bitter taste and aromatic complexity.

What is the best substitute for Campari?

A suitable substitute for Campari is often Aperol, which shares a similar vibrant color and bitter profile, albeit with a lighter and sweeter taste, making it an excellent alternative in cocktails where Campari is a key ingredient.

What can I use if I don’t have Campari?

If Campari is unavailable, Aperol is a go-to substitute, offering a milder bitterness and citrusy sweetness; alternatively, other red bitter liqueurs like Gran Classico or Cappelletti can be used, each imparting unique flavors to cocktails.

Can I substitute Aperol for Campari in a Negroni?

While traditionally made with Campari, a Negroni can be adapted with Aperol as a substitute, resulting in a lighter and fruitier version of this classic cocktail; this modification can appeal to those who prefer a less intense bitterness in their Negroni.

What is the closest thing to Aperol?

The closest alternatives to Aperol include other Aperitivo-style liqueurs with similar profiles; Campari, though more bitter, shares a familial connection, while Select Aperitivo and Luxardo Aperitivo offer comparable bright orange hues and citrusy undertones, making them suitable substitutes in various cocktails.

Final Verdict: Campari Vs Aperol

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. The Secret to That Bright-Red Drink? Little Bugs
  2. Distilled Spirit
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