The splash of the translucent red liquid into a heavy cut glass tumbler, the fizz of soda over clinking ice cubes, the scent of the orange slice on the edge of the glass. It takes the crack barman assembling my drink in one of London’s smartest members’ clubs just a few seconds to send me whirling back to my childhood as I watched my father make himself a Campari and Soda.
I’m a child of the 70s and 80s, and Campari with its heady herbal, fruity, sweet, bitter contrasts was the drink. On early Saturday evenings in the summer I remember my father, in his jeans and long-collared shirt, would lean negligently against the kitchen counter, swirling his drink, whilst my mother, in a floor-length printed cotton sundress, would float around the kitchen conjuring up exotic suppers for friends and family.
I would reach up my plump child’s arms for tiny sips of the pretty pinky-red drink, but it didn’t taste like the blackcurrant syrup I really wanted, and the sweet bitterness was confusing to my child’s palette.
It wasn’t until my twenties, when my job as a fledgling fashion editor would send me to Italy for work, that I thought of Campari again. Dressed to the nines for the collections, in the gilt-edged hotel bars of Milan, I would order Negronis, that wonderful cocktail of gin, Cinzano (vermouth rosso) and, always, the Campari which is at the heart of the Negroni, garnished with orange peel, in the breaks between fashion shows, and that wonderful Campari bitternesss matched with a heady sweetness seemed to me no longer confusing, but the most sophisticated – and delicious – drink in the world.
Now, of course, drinking Negronis is no longer confined to Milanese aperitivi – it’s become the drink of choice in London and in New York, and Campari a vital ingredient in the barman’s arsenal of classic and modern cocktails. (I’ve also started to favour the Americano – a Negroni without gin and with soda, and the Lucien Gaudin, with its splash of Cointreau and dry vermouth replacing the sweet.)
The dichotomy between sweet and bitter, which is at the heart of Campari, is played up wonderfully – and humorously – in the 17th edition of the Campari Calendar, whose images for 2016 are featured here, showing Kate Hudson photographed by Michelangelo di Battista and looking quite phenomenal as the fiercest politician evah, on the The BitterSweet Campaign trail, giving us her take on hard and on soft, on pretty and on chic, and, above all, on bitter and on sweet.
The images remind us, as always, that there’s nothing more attention-grabbing than being presented with a contrast – whether in a speech, an outfit, on the table – or in the glass in your hand.
The Campari Calendar 2016, of which only 9,999 copies are printed, will not go on sale but will be internationally distributed to friends of Campari around the world.
We have a copy of The Campari Calendar 2016 to giveaway to an LLG reader: simply leave a comment below telling us whether you are bitter or sweet – and why!
This post was written in association with Campari.