The Other Italian Red

By: José Manuel Simián

A few weeks ago, when I went to my local wine store to buy some cocktail ingredients, I heard some shocking words.

"We don't carry Campari anymore," said the guy in the baseball cap and the beard. He was the new manager of this store, and he also seemed to know his stuff better than the previous guy, whose best attribute seemed to be giving pretzels to my kids when I bought the only wine bottle I liked in there.

"But we have this other bitter apéritif that is very similar..."

I didn't like the sound of it. I've been a Campari loyalist since I first tasted it in my early twenties. I could even tell how I went from a young adult to whatever it is that I am now in Campari stages: with tonic or orange juice; with soda; Negroni.

So I was skeptic about an "alternative" to my favorite red apéritif, but I had no option.

I bought my first bottle of Contratto Aperitif. And I was surprised. Not only was Contratto very good: it was --and it feels like a betrayal to say this, believe me-- a great alternative to my old friend. It has different flavors and aromas than Campari, and it's lighter, which comes as a refreshing surprise when you are, for instance, making a Negroni. A Contratto Negroni is lighter and more aromatic than the one made with Campari. 

Not convinced? Try the Contrattino, a cocktail made with equal parts Contratto and champagne, served over ice in a white wine glass. It's refreshing and flavorful, and it will make you look mysterious if you make some stuff up about the differences between apéritifs.

You and me, Campari? Don't worry. We'll always have my twenties. 

LOGISTICS: Contratto Aperitif, official site

José Manuel Simián is the Executive Editor of Manero. He used to be a lawyer and is probably listening to Bob Dylan as you read this.