Campari Soda

By Benjamin M. Riley


6 oz. Campari

6 oz. Eau avec gaz

Drink with caution8025092-9288157-thumbnail

I feel that a confession is in order. I am no fan of the venerated Campari Soda. Quite simply, its taste is wholly reminiscent of cough medicine. In the past I did like it. But only on a theoretical level. It seemed the quintessential drink of a European bon vivant, which I, of course, fancied myself at the time. And it may indeed be that. But it’s no drink of mine. 

My first taste of the beverage came on a sunny Friday afternoon at a little cafe in the Luxembourg Garden. As is the Parisian tradition, the seats faced outwards, all the better to gaze condescendingly at the rabble not fortunate enough to have a seat on that hot afternoon. 

The cafe was the type of place Hemingway used to sit, reading the horse racing papers and dreaming of solvency. Luckily, I was solvent, though you know we don’t speak of money. Solvent enough to enjoy the afternoon, at least. 

It certainly was a pleasant scene – the petit French children playing with their toy boats in the fountain, decked in their St. James sailors’ crew necks. It was very much a scene out of a movie, especially the drink. The deep red color and the gaz from the avec created what appeared to me to be the epitome of my current existence – young, sophisticated, and above all else, European. Then I tasted it. 

And so I no longer drink Campari Sodas. But I still sit out at that little cafe in the Jardin du Luxembourg. And if you see me with what appears to be a red drink in my hand, be assured it’s a Kir Royale.