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Zero Campari - A Non-Alcoholic Way to Enjoy This Bitter Italian Liqueur!


Bottle of alcohol free Campari besides an empty bottle of Campari

Hello, Friends of Cocktails! There are two types of people in this world: you either love Campari or you hate it.But what if you, or your guest, decided to not drink alcohol, for whatever reason? You probably think you can’t enjoy the beautifully bitter-sweet taste of a Boulevardier, Americano, or a simple Campari soda, right? Wrong! Today I’ll show you how to make a completely non-alcoholic Campari substitute that will quench your thirst for the famous Italian Bitter while you’re going zero-proof.


You’ll then be able to combine it with soda, and a few drops of saline solution for a refreshing zero-Campari Soda and enjoy. Later on though, we’ll also make a zero-Boulevardier, and if you’d like to see a Zero-Negroni we’ll need to make a non-alcoholic gin, so let me know in the comments of the full episode on YouTube if that’s something you’d like to see. Now, as you know, inspiration for these episodes come from the book ZERO: A New Approach To Non-Alcoholic Drinks


Last year we used it to make our own version of Alcohol Free Bitters, Zero Bourbon, and even Zero Vermouth, so consider checking those posts out if you want more options for non-alcoholic cocktails, but for now, let’s start with an oleo saccharum using grapefruit and orange peels. Now, with Dry January here, it’s Zero-Cocktail Time!


orange besides a bottle of alcohol free bourbon, alcohol free sweet vermouth and non-alcoholic Campari

Orange & Grapefruit Oleo Saccharum

● 60g Orange Peels

● 60g Grapefruit Peels

● 260g Sugar


In a container add your peels and the sugar, gently muddle everything together, and let it sit for 24 hours before you continue with the process. As mentioned in the post on Dangerous Cocktail Ingredients, remember to use organic citrus fruits and wash them well before peeling. Also, normally we would need the same amount of sugar as the weight of the peels, but we will add the total sugar we’ll need for our liqueur at once. 


After a day, we’re ready to add our ingredients to a sous vide bag, starting with our still-quite-sugary oleo saccharum, so try to rinse it out with the water to get all the sugar out. 


Zero Campari

● Orange & Grapefruit Oleo Saccharum

● 800g Water

● 60g Glycerol (optional)

● 30g Leftover Maraschino Cherry Syrup

● 15g Gentian Root

● 6g Angelica Roots

● 8g Crushed Ceylon Cinnamon

● 6g Crushed Pink Peppercorns

● 0.7g Crushed Black Peppercorns

● 5g Crushed Star Anise

● 1.2g Cloves

● 1.8g Pectinex

● Red Food Coloring (optional)


After adding everything to your sous vide bag, remember to seal it with a double seal as always. Now place the bag in the sous vide bath set to 90°C or 195°F and cook for 1 hour. This temperature is a little higher than what we’ve used for other recipes since we’re not using alcohol, and this will also help with extraction of flavors. Give it a shake after the half hour mark and back in the bath it goes, and after cooking place the bag in cold water and wait for it to cool.



After the bag has cooled down, cut it open and strain the mixture through a fine strainer. This yielded around 900ml (30oz) of non-alcoholic Campari, and to make it clearer I’ll add 1.8g of pectinex, a specialty enzyme that breaks down pectin structure. Once mixed in we’ll leave this to work overnight, so let’s transfer to a bottle first. The next day you’ll see sediments at the bottom, which means it’s time to gently strain our zero ABV liqueur, this time through a coffee filter. 


Give it plenty of time and once it’s done we’re down to the final step, which is optional as well but crucial to get the appearance right. To add the bright red color I’ll add red food-safe coloring to a small amount of the liqueur. Once fully dissolved I’ll gradually add it to the rest of the Zero-Campari until I’m happy with the color. Try to get it as close as possible to the original, and once satisfied with the result transfer to a bottle. 


If you made more Zero Campari than you need, feel free to split it into smaller bottles later and put them in the freezer,but now it’s time to give it a quick taste, cheers! Bitter citrus notes on the nose, and a bitter-sweet taste with hints of berries and spices. And while it’s of course lacking that alcohol kick, it has a drying bitterness that lingers on the aftertaste remarkably similar to Campari. I’m definitely calling it a success!


As with most zero ABV alternatives though, this is not something that will fool you into thinking it’s the original Campari, but together with other components in a drink it can create fun non-alcoholic cocktail creations for you and your guests to enjoy… like a zero-proof Boulevardier. A Zero-vardier? 



Zero-vardier

● 60mL · 2oz Zero Bourbon

● 45mL · 1.5oz Zero Sweet Vermouth

● 45mL · 1.5oz Zero Campari

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution


We’re not using a mixing glass but a chilled tumbler glass with a tempered ice block. We’ll add ingredients directly, but since there’s no alcohol the dilution will be smaller - which is also why I’ll add higher amounts of all ingredients. Now give it a stir to mix and chill our non-alcoholic Boulevardier, and express essential oils from a small coin of orange peel and place it on the ice. Looks as good as the original, but let’s give it a taste, cheers!


Zesty orange and smoked wood aroma leads into a gently subtle mix of fruity, woody and bitter notes that all hint towards its alcoholic counterpart. If you’re going dry, this will be as good as it gets, but with that we have reached the Bottom of The Glass! Today I’ll throw out an idea on how to boost and improve the taste of our zero Campari, and it’s actually using something we’ve made on the channel before - Campari Dust.

 

When we dehydrated Campari to sprinkle it on the Fluffy Jungle Bird we actually got rid of all the alcohol, together with the liquid, so you can add that into your zero-proof Campari to add some of the original taste, or just sprinkle some on top of your cocktail for the garnish. I wouldn’t mind that Jungle Bird right now… but I'd also love to hear what zero proof cocktails you'd use this non-Campari in. I’ll see you next time, with something a little… stronger. Cheers!



2 Comments


The only resemblance to Campari that I find in this is being bitter and sweet. The star anise completely overwhelms the rest of the flavors and the citrus doesn't come through at all. It also lacks the sharpness of Campari. Unless you want an anise/licorice bitter zero-proof liqueur with a hint of cinnamon, you could dial back the star anise to maybe 1-2g and have an interesting earthy herbal zero-proof liqueur. Still not a Campari substitute. Maybe upping the citrus peel, and/or adding bitter orange peel (you can buy it dried online).


Technique wise, I would suggest that using oleo saccharum in something that still has to be filtered is only going to cause issues with filtering (due to the…

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Kevin Kos
Kevin Kos
Feb 22
Replying to

For all ZERO episodes, I start with the ZERO cocktail book. This is a modified version of their recipe. I agree with what you said and appreciate your input. Thank you!

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