There is a drink I am obsessed with that, unfortunately, is not sold in the States. After my last trip to Italy I looked for it high and low in the internet maze that usually spits out whatever you are seeking. But to no avail. Crodino just cannot be had in the US.
Crodino is a little orange non-alcoholic bitter drink made by Campari and sold in tiny 6 oz bottles (could it be one of the reasons why it’s not exported? too small for the American market?). It’s typically savoured as an aperitif while munching on chips and nuts or, in more stylish establishments, little sandwiches and other finger food bars provide for free with drinks in the late afternoon. Campari’s website only says that Crodino is made with water, sugar and herbs – the recipe as secret as Coke’s.
A couple of Summers ago, my friend G came to visit and, unable to find a Negroni Sbagliato anywhere, took matters in his own hands, stopped at a liquor store and bought himself a bottle of Campari that is still living at my house. Campari is an alcoholic bitter drink (about 20% alcoholic content) that is also made from infusing herbs and fruit. Its characteristic bright red color used to be obtained from a dye made by crushing cochineal insects (ladybugs family) back in 1860 when Gaspare Campari invented it in Novara. I am fairly certain no insects are harmed these days but it’s probably Red # 5 that is used.
Campari is usually mixed with soda water and vermouth (the base for the Americano cocktail) but the most famous cocktail that spurred from it is Negroni, said to have been created in 1919 in Florence at what is now Cafe Giacosa. A Count Negroni asked the bartender for his Americano cocktail to be made with gin instead of soda water and voila. A new drink was born.
But back to my own bottle of Campari. While cleaning my miserly stocked liquor cabinet I came across it and wondered what the hell to do with is as my near teetotaler status wold not make me crave Negronis or other very alcoholic concoctions. I mixed it with sparkling water and simple syrup and it was ok but nothing I would go back to. Then, fishing out an old can of Sprite from the pantry, I mixed the two and I was floored. Not exactly 100% but very, very similar to a Crodino, albeit an alcoholic one.
On Oscar night, just two days before my annual cleanse, I fixed myself a large glass of Campari-Crodino to bid goodbye to alcohol, coffee, sugar, dairy and wheat for the next 6 weeks. It tasted delicious!
To make it: use one part Campari to two parts Sprite.