I was in a small neighbourhood Italian restaurant at the weekend, so small in fact that the Glaswegian Maître d’ instructed the Croatian waiter to move us to a table for four as we were ‘too tall’ for a standard table for two. It’s unlikely to win a Michelin star, but it’s friendly, reliable and walkable.
It’s been unseasonably hot and when the waiter asked what I’d like to drink I heard myself say “Campari Soda” please. I have no idea why. The waiter let out an involuntary snigger, my dining companion was less polite and laughed out loud.
They had no Campari, they had plenty of retro jokes, and I settled for G&T instead. Further interrogation over dinner failed to uncover why I wanted one, the closest guess was my Dr Who obsession had tripped me back to the 70’s, but the craving had been unleashed so I picked up a couple at Carluccio’s.
Campari is an odd drink. It’s hugely bitter and completely undrinkable without soda. Orange or grapefruit juice do add some sweetness to neat Campari, but the Italian way of drinking calls for the impossibly cute single serve pre-mix bottles. It’s bitter and slightly tonic like, with some intense zest.
I can’t tell you what it’s made from, even less people are rumoured to know the actual Campari recipe than that of Coca Cola. It contains alcohol, water, quinine (useful for fighting malaria!), orange peel, sugar, cochineal a secret blend of herbs and plant extracts and rhubarb, yes rhubarb.
I’m over my craving, I’ve had my Campari Soda, I feel better for it and will no doubt order another some time in 2016.