European watering holes have been seducing writers for decades. A long afternoon spent writing (or supposedly writing) at a sidewalk café, usually accompanied by an apéritif, has a certain allure and draw. Ernest Hemingway wrote of his “good café” and extolled the virtues of “a clean, well-lighted place.” Malcolm Cowley pined for those days on the café terrace, “with a good long drink and nothing to do but drink it.”
And often, from the research I’ve done for my books, those writers enjoyed the bitter apéritif Campari and, naturally, included it in their novels, memoirs and poems.
The liqueur was invented by Gaspare Campari in the 1860s at the Bass Bar in Turin, Italy, where he worked as a maitre licoriste, or master bartender. Campari is a secret blend of natural ingredients, mostly herbs, spices, bark, fruits and fruit peels. Its distinctive carmine hue originally derived from dye extracted from the cochineal, a beetle-like insect native to Latin America.