I’m a big fan of Campari, and I’m developing an appreciation for all sorts of cocktails using this delicious bitter. By ordering “something with Campari that is not a Negroni” at some of my favorite bars like 1886, Seven Grand, and Elements I’ve so far been introduced to some incredible concotions like the Boulevardier and the Old Pal. But when Derek Brown (@betterdrinking) tweeted an ode to Campari the other day, I was drawn to a cocktail I had never heard of before: the Jasmine. I found a recipe by Robert Hess that included a helpful video for making the drink:
1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Campari
1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon wedge.
As much as I love a Negroni, this drink may be my favorite use of Campari that I’ve tried. Every sip is a long, complex flavor experience (gosh I sound ridiculous, but I’m not sure how else to describe it). It starts out sweet and smooth, reminiscent of a gin sour, with the tartness of the lemon slowly blending into the bitterness of the Campari for a long, smooth, and very bitter finish. Its eerily similar to drinking a very alcoholic version of grapefruit juice. Its a tremendous sipper, refreshing without sacrificing complexity. This is a great drink for anyone wary of either gin or Campari, because it showcases the brilliance of those ingredients in a very approachable way.
I should mention that there are two versions of the Jasmine recipe: the Hess version mentioned above, and the original recipe by Paul Harrington. Harrington’s recipe calls for 1 1/2 oz gin, 1/4 oz Cointreau, 1/4 oz Campari, and 3/4 oz lemon juice. I tried both recipes and enjoyed the Hess version by a wide margin. The Harrington Jasmine is sourer, and the Campari is far less pronounced. I felt like the drink lacked the complexity and the bitter finish that makes the Hess version such a standout. Perhaps those unfamiliar with Campari might try the Harrington version as a starter, but I highly recommend jumping right in and trying the Hess recipe. Cheers.