Campari and Sweet Vermouth are excellent in numerous classic cocktails like the Negroni, Milano-Torini, or Americano cocktail. The sweetness of the Vermouth balances the distinct herbal and bitter notes of Campari so nicely, it's hard to find Campari substitutes in many recipes.
For people new to Campari, the pronounced bitterness of the red aperitif is often overwhelming. Even in comparison with other Amari, the bright red bitter is heavily on the bitter side. If you're looking for a great substitute for Campari, that's something you should consider.
If you plan to drink it neat, Leopold Bros. Aperitivo is the best alternative to Campari. In mixed drinks, Contratto Bitter and Tempus Fugit's Gran Classico are both excellent options.
For a better overview of the different Campari alternatives, here's a detailed look at the best ways to replace the popular red bitter liqueur.
Contratto bitter is a red aperitivo liqueur that contains 22% alcohol and comes in a fancy bottle with a striking label design. The red bitter is lighter on the palate compared to Campari but has a similar mouthfeel.
Based on grape brandy and infused with 24 herbal ingredients, the flavor profile is less bitter and more herbaceous. Paired with Gin and Vermouth, Contratto creates a rich and balanced Negroni with an overall sweeter taste.
Tempus Fugit Gran Classico
Gran Classico is a bitter aperitivo with an intense herbal flavor profile, sweet taste, and pronounced bitterness.
Some even say, Gran Classico is not only a great Campari alternative, but it makes a better Negroni than red bitter from Milan. The reason is that Gran Classico has a similar level of complexity and brings beautiful nuances to the drink without overpowering the other ingredients. It also has a thicker and richer mouthfeel improving the drink's texture.
Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano
Cappelletti is another common substitute for Campari. This one, however, is less of a direct replacement and more like an option to create exciting variations of drinks.
The liqueur is wine-based, thus, thinner, less viscous, fruitier, and far less bitter than Campari. In a Negroni, you want to pair it with a drier Vermouth and a softer, less junipery Gin like Hendricks, Monkey 47, or Ferdinand Saar.
Luxardo Bitter (Rosso)
The brand Luxardo is best known for its famed Maraschino liqueur. But this bitter liqueur is an excellent product as well. It's a popular Campari substitute if Gran Classico is too sweet for your taste buds.
The red, bitter aperitif with pronounced bitter orange, thyme, and rhubarb notes is a well-balanced middle ground between overly bitter (Campari) and sweet (Gran Classico). It's bold enough to be paired with juniper-heavy Gins yet won't overpower more subtle ones.
Leopold Bros. Aperitivo
Of all substitutes for Campari in this list, Leopold Bros Aperitivo is the closest when it comes to the actual flavor profile. The Denver-based company first released its red Aperitivo in 2015, and it feels like the intention was to pair it with Gin and Sweet Vermouth.
In cocktails and other mixed drinks, this bitter is an excellent alternative. On the rocks, it tastes just different enough to be perceived as a product in its own right. However, the flavor here is not complex and intense enough to keep up with most other options.
Rinomato is an Aperitivo liqueur with a bittersweet and herbal taste. Flavor-wise it is somewhere between Campari and Aperol. It has the typical striking red hue and a milder but still complex and strikingly bitter flavor profile.
But compared to Campari, Rinomato is lighter and more refreshing, with a citrus-forward palate that reminds me of Aperol. This distinct combination makes it an ideal Campari alternative in a Negroni and also works well in the Aperol Spritz.