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All About Aperol: The Difference Between Campari and Aperol

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 31, 2020 • 2 min read

Aperol is a colorful, bitter, Italian liqueur perfect for splashing into a Spritz while you watch the evening pass.

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What Is Aperol?

Aperol is a bright orange, bittersweet apéritif liqueur with a low (11%) alcohol content. Aperol, like other apéritifs, is meant to stimulate the appetite and is typically consumed before dinner. Aperol is perhaps best known as the star ingredient of a popular cocktail, the Aperol Spritz.

What Is the History of Aperol?

The Barbieri brothers, Luigi and Silvio, wanted to make an apéritif with low alcohol content. After tinkering for years, the brothers debuted their apéritif at the 1919 International Fair in Padua, Italy. The name “Aperol” comes from the French word for apéritif, apéro.

Aperol was not a particularly popular liqueur until the 1950s when the Aperol Spritz was developed. The Aperol Spritz is an aperitivo (a pre-dinner drink) made with three parts Prosecco to two parts Aperol and a splash of soda water, served in a large wine glass with plenty of ice cubes and garnished with an orange slice (or in Venice, a green olive). The drink became integral to the culture of northeastern Italy, where meeting friends over a Spritz is a weekly affair, and solidified Aperol’s place in Italian cocktail culture.

After the Campari Group acquired Aperol in 2003, the brand launched a marketing campaign that brought Aperol Spritzes out of northern Italy and to the rest of the world. Thanks to this effort, Aperol is now stocked behind bars from Padua to Portland.

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What Is in Aperol?

Aperol’s recipe is top secret but includes citrus oil from both sweet and bitter oranges, rhubarb, gentian root (also found in Suze and Angostura bitters), and cinchona bark. The other ingredients remain a mystery.

What Is the Difference Between Aperol and Campari?

Aperol and Campari are often confused for one another, as they are both brightly colored, Italian apéritifs sold in tall, glass bottles.

  • Color. You can tell the difference between Aperol and Campari by the former’s bright orange hue. Campari, on the other hand, is crimson red.
  • Taste. Aperol is sweeter than Campari, which has a distinctly bitter flavor profile that is essential to cocktails like the Negroni and the Boulevardier.
  • Alcohol content. Aperol has a low alcohol content (11% ABV), while Campari has a much higher alcohol content (20.5–28.5% ABV, depending on where it’s sold).

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