The Dried Ingredients To Bring Campari Flavors To Non-Alcoholic Drinks

The classic cocktails folks know and love have earned their enduring place in the barroom lineup for a reason: balance. It's the mark of a well-crafted drink and the territory where many mocktail-mixologists tragically lose their way. You can't just skip the booze in a cocktail recipe and expect the drink to still work; the balance will be thrown off. Still, it can be tough to find fitting dupes for the spirits cocktail fans know and love. Luckily, there's a quick and easy way to whip up a non-alcoholic Campari alternative at home, and it only takes two ingredients. 

If you've never tried it before, Campari is a red bitter Italian amaro, in the same family as Aperol. The herbal liqueur is often enjoyed as an aperitif, versatile enough to fit the brunch scene or a dinner date. It's the ingredient that gives Negronis their bitter, herbaceous, mature flavor and deep scarlet hue.

One of the most crucial components of constructing a successful mocktail is emulating the flavor notes that give a spirit its idiosyncratic flavor. To recreate Campari's signature bitter, slightly floral profile, Leanne Favre (head bartender of Clover Club) recommends using dried hibiscus and orange peel (via Food Network). Here's how to achieve these flavors at home, sans Campari.

Grab some hibiscus, some orange peel, and...

For the hibiscus element, use food-grade dried hibiscus flowers, which can be purchased in bulk from most Asian groceries or ordered online from a variety of retailers. Or, you could steep some strong hibiscus tea and use it as the base of your mocktail. You could even make a large batch and store it in a Mason jar in the fridge to keep on-hand for quick and easy entertaining when guests drop by.

To replicate Campari's sharp bitter orange flavor, some dried orange slices or fresh orange peel will do the trick. If you'd rather skip the produce and invest in a non-perishable option, you could also use orange bitters. This offering from Hella Cocktail Co. is made from orange skins, caramel, and gentian root. Admittedly, as a bitters, it does tote an ABV of 47%, but since bitters are used in trace amounts (just a few drops per bevy) they impart what is considered to be an undetectable amount of alcohol. Or, this blood orange bitters by Stirrings is totally non-alcoholic.

...a little creativity

Whether you're observing Dry January, hosting an inclusive cocktail hour, taking a little health hiatus, or simply embarking on your maiden foray into the N.A. spirit world, any mocktail would benefit from Campari's complex, sophisticated flavor profile. Once you have your hibiscus and orange elements, it's time for the fun part: Building your drink. 

Campari is an essential ingredient in the Negroni, Americano, and Boulevardier, but considering these drinks are made from a combination of three high-proofed libations, these cocktails might be a little ambitious to translate to an N.A. version. Instead, whip up an N.A. Bicicletta with your zero-proof "Campari," club soda, and sparkling white grape juice. If you have some soda water, you have everything you need to make a knockout Campari Spritz. Or, save a little orange juice from breakfast and enjoy a simple Garibaldi in the evening. 

Mocktails' proliferating popularity in recent years has seen the advent of entire "liquor" stores that exclusively sell alcohol-free spirits. Surely, you could visit one of these retailers and find an N.A. Campari alternative. But, conveniently, you can bring Campari flavor to your non-alcoholic drinks without a trip to a specialty store, using only dry ingredients that impart the same flavor. Whatever drink you decide to make, garnish with an orange twist and enjoy in good company; you can still have "high spirits" while sipping a spirit-free bevy.