August 1, 2022

Campari vs. Aperol: Understand their Delicious Differences

Two iconic bitter Italian liqueurs that create downright delicious cocktails, but what sets them apart?

glasses of aperol and campari

The uniquely complex flavors of aperitif style drinks have gained lots of popularity with modern day drinkers.

We have taken notice of their pre-dinner deliciousness, and despite plenty of options for bitter liqueurs, Aperol and Campari have held down their spots as fan favorites.

From a distance, they seem quite similar. Both are classic red Italian aperitifs that pair well with other spirits, but after a closer look they have their distinct differences.

smelling a glass of Campari

What do they taste like?

Aperol tastes light and sweet with vibrant grapefruit and orange candy notes, and a subtle background of bitter spices.

Campari has a deep orange peel flavor, intense herbal bitterness, and complex notes of rhubarb, dark cinnamon and spices.

which is more bitter, aperol or campari?

Campari is certainly the more bitter with an intense citrus peel and herbal bitterness, whereas the bitterness in Aperol takes a back seat while the sweet mellow citrus flavors shine through.

a glass of aperol

Color and alcohol content

Campari has a deep dark red color that was originally made from crushed up cochineal bugs (yes, you read that right) although the Campari Group has since taken that out of their recipe.

When compared to Campari, Aperol has a slightly lighter orange hue, but when mixed into cocktails it could be tricky to tell the difference.  

percent abv

Campari has a higher ABV than Aperol coming in at 24% alcohol in the U.S although it ranges from 20-28% depending on where in the world you purchase a bottle.

Aperol's 11% ABV is similar to wine which puts both liqueurs in the low-alcohol category when compared to other spirits like whiskey, tequila and gin that are at least 40% alcohol.

Italian Campari

The origins

In 1860, Gaspare Campari created his secret concoction with citrus, herbs and spices, and the signature flavor became increasingly popular at the Caffe Campari in Milano. Eventually the brand was forced to meet demand with its own production plant and the rest is history.

Aperol was created some 60 years later by Luigi and Silvio Barbieri but didn't gain massive popularity until the 1950's, mostly due to the brands campaign focused on the light and refreshing spritz cocktails.

The Aperol brand would later be purchased by the Campari group in 2003, and both brands remain big sellers.

pouring Campari

Iconic cocktails with Aperol + Campari

Campari and Aperol are each the star spirit of classic cocktail recipes, most notably the Aperol Spritz and the Negroni.

Garnishing the cocktail with an orange slice

Make a Spritz!

The classic Aperol cocktail that really put it on the map

The light citrus notes and low alcohol content of Aperol make it an awesome pairing with prosecco in a spritz, whereas the bold bitterness of Campari stands up nicely to the gin in a Negroni.

Two awesome aperitif drinks to sip before a meal!

Also try the Americano, Boulevardier, and Sbagliato for some more great Campari cocktails, or a Paper Plane, or Naked and Famous for other drinks with Aperol.

bottle of aperol and a spritz cocktail

can you substitute Aperol and Campari for each other in cocktails?

Yes you can, but understand that you will creating a cocktail that is definitely different from the original. Although they are similar in some ways, their differences in bitterness, sweetness and botanical flavor won't create the same drink when swapped for one another.

is one better than the other?

No! In their own ways, Aperol and Campari are both delicious. They each have cocktails where they really shine and preferring one over the other is simply a preference.

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