I’ve had the good fortune to visit Rome, Italy, twice during the course of my life. I have seen the Colosseum at night in all of it’s ancient, fairly underwhelming glory; I have visited the ornate halls of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica; I have dined on Coda alla Vaccinara, the signature Roman oxtail stew that caused me nearly to burst from a pleasurable overkill of contentedness.
But of all my Roman memories—including the unforgettable experience of my father rattling the walls of our shared hotel room with his snoring night after night—I most often recall the quiet hour when, after pouring myself a Campari over ice, I would read by the open window of my hotel room as the sounds of Rome wafted into my window from the street below. Sitting there, reading and sipping my drink, I felt like a true emperor of Rome.
It’s a memory that comes rushing back to me often—sometimes all it takes is the summer sunlight streaming into my apartment window at the right angle to transport me back in time and space to those hours I spent in Rome as Emperor Grgas—though Grgas the Good is what my people called me, for I was fair, true, and generous with them always. But perhaps a more apt nickname might have been the Campari King, for it is that Italian aperitif that made made those lazy afternoons in Rome so indelible.
Campari’s not for everyone. It’s bitter, and more than half of the people I offer it to grimace and say, “Not for me.” Which is fair, I guess. But even if it’s fair, it’s still a shame, as Campari is as unique and beautiful a liqueur there is, and stars in two of my all-time favorite cocktails, the Americano and my jam, the drink I drink while running through the 6 with my woes—the Negroni.
Ladies and gentlemen, both of these cocktails are easy to make. The Americano is made of equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth and topped with soda water, served over ice. The Negroni is equal parts Campari, sweet Vermouth, and gin, also served over ice. Both drinks should be garnished with an orange peel and served in an old fashioned glass.
Huh? What was that? You don’t have an old fashioned glass to drink your Negronis from? Tsk tsk. That’s too bad. But don’t worry, I got you covered: check out these vintage Cristal D’arques double old fashioned glasses that can very easily be yours. They are perennial favorites that will never go out of style.
So don’t waste any time! The summer—though not even here yet—will be gone before you know it. Try and carve time out of your day to bask in sunlight while drinking some Campari. Give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? I hear that the Emperor is a good man. Good and kind and fair.
And drunk ;)