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The Usual

Bitter Cocktails Even Campari-Haters Will Love

Bitter Peach cocktail. © Wendell T. Webber

After a night on the line, most chefs have a go-to drink, from cheap beer to a house bartender’s expert cocktail. Here, star chefs reveal their favorite drinks.

Tim Dahl of Madison’s Nostrano loves bitter flavors. “Campari, Cynar—super, super bitter flavors,” he says. “But they’re not for everybody. So the challenge with some of our drinks was to think, How far can we go, where my mom would still like it, and I would still appreciate it?” Here, five balanced cocktails for bitter beginners.

Late-Harvest Wine and Campari Cocktails
This extra-refreshing drink tempers the bitterness of Campari with sweet, late-harvest wine and fresh orange juice.

Bitter Peach 
While playing with leftover ingredients one night, bartender Jamie Boudreau combined grappa and peach puree. The mixture was sweet, so he added Aperol, a bitter orange liqueur, then Champagne, resulting in a well-balanced cocktail.

Carpano and Soda
Carpano Antica is a spicy, nutty, sweet vermouth with a slightly bitter edge. Mixed with club soda and a dash of bitters, this drink is the perfect aperitif.

“The three ingredients in this drink look odd together on paper but they are in fact delicious,” says mixologist Philip Ward. “Cynar is bitter and sloe gin is a bit sweet. I can remember thinking, Would they work with tequila?” They do.

Blood Peach Bellini 
This sparkling cocktail was originally made using super-seasonal summer blood peaches. This variation combines Campari, grenadine and white peach puree to approximate the rare fruit’s flavor and color.

Related: More Campari Cocktails
Best Cocktail Bars in the U.S.
Incredibly Beautiful Cocktails

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