Campari brings the spirit of Milano’s Navigli to London’s canals
A bright red canal boat is moored for a few days by Granary Square, and it is host to Campari’s very own floating bar, to promote the classic Italian drink and its versatility in cocktails and aperifs. The Navigli are an area of Milan famous for its bars, restaurants and nightlife, and the name itself means pretty much ‘canals’. Navigli are ocated southwest of the city’s historical centre. The most famous canal is the Naviglio Grande. There are many art studios and little galleries hidden down side streets and is one of the areas that features exhibits during Salone del Mobile (Milan’s design week)
I don’t personally love Milan, but the Navigli are a great place to go for a drink or a bite and meet friends and I have fond memories of many fun evenings spent in the area.
Campari is a contemporary and charismatic classic. The recipe originated in Novara in 1860 and is the base for some of the most famous cocktails around the world.
We attended the one hour session with one of Campari’s bartenders and had the opportunity to learn the story behind some of Campari’s most famous cocktails and how you can create them at home. At £15, this represents a great value as you get to drink a copious amount of cocktails as well as making them yourself, which is fun and of course, a good skill to have!
And indeed, many iconic drinks use Campari, as I have already highlighted on this very blog. It might be now a big brand, but as I found myself telling my guest at the masterclass, in Italy you sort of grow up drinking ‘bitters’ as aperitif and never tire of them (at least, I haven’t). The masterclass I am talking about was part of a series of events on such bespoke red boat happening during London’s designjunction festival happening nearby and the customised giant Campari logo by the canal is part of the art installations too.
We were served a really refreshing Campari G&T during the introduction to the brand itself, during which I learnt a few things I had no idea about, including the fact that Campari predates Italy and how it became popular in the USA in the 1920s. Then we set off to make the first drink, which was going to be my favourite of the session, a MiTo, Milano – Torino, a homage of the two cities which made the brand what it is today. This is made with 25ml of Campari, 25ml of Cinzano Rosso 1757 vermouth and a squeezed slice of lemon peel. You can add soda, but hey, why water down such a perfect tipple?
The second drink we made was the Boulevardier, similar mix but with the addition of 50ml of Wild Turkey bourbon, which at 50c,made the drink way too strong for me, and the addition of the orange peel did nothing to mitigate the strenght of it. Don’t get me wrong, it was not bad by any means, but more of a grown up, late night drink than a saturday afternoon beverage!
Finally, we made the Negroni Sbagliato, another fun drink with a fun story behind (sbagliato means ‘made as a mistake’, and the story wants that a barman making a Negroni was so taken by a beautiful woman walking by that he grabbed a bottle of prosecco instead of one of gin). Very refreshing and lighter, this is a perfect summer drink in our view.
With the last few summer sunrays upon us, an hour or two spent on a canal was a perfect afternoon treat for two friends who had not seen each other in years.