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5 Substitutes for Campari: Upgrade the Cocktail Game

Love mixing up a good cocktail but stumbled upon a recipe that calls for Campari and it’s just not in your home bar? You’re definitely not alone.

Campari is a staple in many classic cocktails, known for its dark, rich color and bitter flavor that adds a certain depth to drinks. It’s the secret sauce in the Negroni, the backbone of an Americano, and a key player in many other beloved concoctions.

If you’ve been scratching your head thinking about how to replicate that distinct taste without the actual bottle, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’re spilling the beans on the 5 best substitutes for Campari that will elevate your cocktails and maybe, just maybe, have you discovering a new favorite way to mix your drinks.

Grab your shaker, and let’s get mixing!

1 – Aperol

Alright, folks, first up on our substitution list is Aperol. Now, you might’ve heard of this one, especially if you’re into breezy, summer afternoon drinks.

Aperol is like Campari’s laid-back cousin. It’s a bit sweeter, lighter in alcohol, and has this vibrant orange hue that screams “fun in the sun.”

Why does it work as a Campari substitute? Well, it still has that herbal, bittersweet flavor profile, just without the kick-you-in-the-palate bitterness that Campari brings to the party.

Using Aperol in place of Campari is a breeze. Generally, you’ll go for a straight swap, 1:1 ratio. This works perfectly in most cocktails where you want that bittersweet vibe without overpowering the drink.

Think of it as swapping out your espresso for a slightly less intense Americano; you’re keeping the spirit, just dialing down the intensity a notch.

2 – Contratto Bitter

Moving on, we’ve got Contratto Bitter coming in as our next solid Campari swap. Have you heard of this gem? It’s a bit of a hidden treasure in the cocktail world, but trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Originating from Italy, just like Campari, Contratto Bitter brings a similar herb-infused, bittersweet flavor to the party. It’s a little less bitter than Campari but still packs enough punch to make your taste buds dance.

Why is it a great substitute? Because it blends beautifully in cocktails where Campari is the star, without overshadowing other flavors. Imagine it as the supporting character that knows exactly when to step up and shine.

How to use it, you ask? Substitute Contratto Bitter for Campari in a 1:1 ratio. It’s that easy. Whether you’re stirring up a Negroni or shaking an Americano, Contratto Bitter slides right in, making your cocktails smoothly sophisticated without too much fuss.

3 – Fernet Branca

Next on deck, we’ve got Fernet Branca. You might be thinking, “Fernet… who?” This herbal, minty powerhouse is not everyone’s first thought as a Campari substitute, but hear me out.

Originating from Italy, Fernet Branca brings a complex, aromatic bitterness that’s a bit of a curveball in a standard cocktail lineup. It’s like that one friend who always surprises you with how cool they are once you get to know them.

Why does Fernet Branca make the cut? It’s got depth. It’s got character. And it’s got enough herbal bitterness to stand in for Campari when you’re looking to mix things up. The minty notes add an unexpected twist, making your drink memorable and just plain interesting.

Swapping Fernet Branca for Campari is kind of like substituting a spicy salsa for a tangy BBQ sauce in a recipe — it changes the game, but in a really good way.

Use it in a 1 part Fernet to 2 parts of what the recipe calls for Campari. This ratio keeps things balanced, ensuring your cocktails have just the right amount of kick without overpowering the other flavors.

4 – Luxardo Bitter Rosso

Alright, so next up we’re talking about Luxardo Bitter Rosso. Ever heard of it? If not, you’re in for a treat. This one’s another Italian marvel, and it screams quality.

Luxardo Bitter Rosso has this vibrant red color that’ll make your drinks look picture-perfect. It’s like grabbing the eye-popping red lipstick when you want to feel fancy.

Why is it a fab substitute for Campari? It nails that bittersweet taste we all know and love in Campari but with its own unique twist. It’s a tad sweeter and boasts a range of herbal notes that mix well in just about any cocktail needing that bittersweet hit.

Using it is a piece of cake. Swap out Campari for Luxardo Bitter Rosso in a 1:1 ratio. Easy peasy.

It’s perfect for when you’re aiming to impress with some vibrant, tasty cocktails but want to keep things simple. Mix it up and watch your drinks transform with that classic, bittersweet charm, minus any hassle.

5 – Cynar

And last but not least, we’re talking about Cynar. You might be going, “Cyna-what now?” Stick with me here.

Cynar is an artichoke-based liqueur from Italy, and before you run off at the mention of artichokes, it’s not what you expect. It’s surprisingly sweet yet retains that vital bittersweet flavor, making it an ace up your sleeve when Campari’s missing.

What makes Cynar a killer substitute? It’s that sweet spot (pun intended) between bitter and sweet that makes your cocktails interesting without overwhelming your taste buds. Plus, it’s a conversation starter—how many drinks do you know that are made with artichokes?

Using Cynar is as simple as it gets. Swap it in for Campari at a 1:1 ratio. Whether you’re shaking up a storm or stirring gently, Cynar fits right into your cocktails, adding that bittersweet complexity with a hint of vegetable goodness.

Give it a try, and you might just surprise yourself with how versatile this liqueur can be.


And there you have it, folks—five rockin’ substitutes for Campari that’ll keep your cocktail game strong and maybe even turn a few heads. Whether you’re mixing drinks for a chill night in or showing off your bartender skills at a party, there’s something for everyone in this list.

Just to wrap it all up, here’s the lowdown:

  • Aperol: Sweeter, lighter, and fun. Swap it 1:1.
  • Contratto Bitter: Less bitter, super blendable. Straight swap, 1:1.
  • Fernet Branca: Herbal, minty, and bold. Mix it up with 1 part Fernet to 2 parts Campari ratio.
  • Luxardo Bitter Rosso: Sweet yet bittersweet, eye-catchingly red. Use 1:1 for an elegant twist.
  • Cynar: Sweet, bittersweet, and yes, made from artichokes. Swap it in 1:1 for an intriguing mix.

Each brings its own vibe to the table, offering a spectrum of flavors and possibilities. Experiment, have fun, and discover your new favorite cocktail twist. Cheers to mixing it up and keeping things fresh!