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Gaspare Campari’s precise formula for the brilliant red aperitif he created in 1860 is still not public knowledge.  But if there is an ornamental dwarf orange tree growing in a pot on your terrace or in your living room–the kind which Italians call ‘chinotto’– you are looking at one of the ingredients that gives Campari its characteristic bitter flavour.  These little bitter-sour oranges, along with whatever else is in the recipe, soak in alcohol and water to become Campari.  In days gone by, the crushed bodies of cochineal insects tinted the drink.  Now its deep rich color is no longer of natural origin. “I take another Campari soda,”  sang the Swiss band Taxi in 1977:

The sea of clouds lies underneath me

The fan is humming quietly

It is as if I didn’t exist any longer.

These are the first lines of the song ‘Campari Soda‘ by Taxi, translated from the original Swiss German.  Swissair so liked the image Taxi evoked of drinking a Campari Soda that they wanted people to associate it with their airline.  Viewers so liked the commercial–showing a Swissair jet floating dreamily above the clouds to the ‘Campari Soda’ lyrics and the wail of a saxaphone– that the song became a Swiss hit.  And something of a popular classic as well as this great version of the song by Swiss musician Stephan Eicher at the Gurten Festival shows. For those who like a milder variation of Campari, here is an alternative…a Strawberry~Orange Campari Cocktail. Campari Soda (for 1 drink) Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF Ingredients: (The proportions given are a starting point.  Equal amounts of Campari and soda are a standard way of making the drink, but not the only way.  If you like a less pronounced Campari flavour, increase the amount of soda.  However, as the ice melts, the drink mellows naturally.)

  • 3 ounces of Campari
  • 3 ounces of Perrier or Club Soda
  • Ice Cubes
  • a slice of English Cucumber is an optional finishing touch


  • an Old-Fashioned Glass, or any other glass that fits the size of the drink

1.  Add the Campari to the glass, several ice cubes and then the Perrier or club soda. 2.  A slice of English cucumber is a nice decoration, hooked onto the rim of the glass or floating in the drink. Strawberry~Orange Campari Cocktail (for 6 3-ounce cocktails or 3 with refills) For a dinner for 8 people, make 2 rounds of the cocktail mixture and keep the second in reserve without mixing it with the crushed ice until it’s needed for refills. Ingredients:

  • 10 fresh Strawberries
  • 120 milliliters of Campari
  • 360 milliliters of freshly squeezed Orange Juice
  • 8 or 10 Ice Cubes, roughly crushed and set aside in a bowl
  • an optional garnish 6 Strawberries with their stems still attached, a single one for each glass, split down to the stem and hooked onto the glasses’ rims


  • a Pitcher big enough to hold the cocktail mixture and the crushed ice
  • a big Mug, a Ceramic Pot or small Bowl with high sides in which to “muddle” the Strawberries
  • a Strainer
  • a Muddler or something that will serve as one.  A Muddler is a bartending utensil– a wooden stick, shaped like a pestle that is used to crush herbs or fruits to release their juices and flavours.  The rounded end of a rolling pin, as shown in the photos, or a pestle is a good substitute for the real thing.

1.  Put the strawberries in the container and “muddle” them by crushing them with whatever utensil you have chosen to do the job.  The reason for ‘muddling’ the strawberries instead of pureeing them is that the berries flavour the drink without adding seeds and random bits of fruit to the cocktail. 2.  Into the pitcher, put the muddled strawberries, the Campari, the orange juice, and the crushed ice and stir everything around together to mix the cocktails and to chill them. 3.  Strain the cocktail mixture into the glasses and decorate with the strawberries if you are using them. Campari Sodas and Strawberry~Orange Campari Cocktails are offered with the Hors d’oeuvres before dinner in the Menu:  Dinner in Early Spring. © Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012