The Serpenti: A Campari Cocktail

August 19, 2014

In Cooking from Every Angle, we hear from our fearless leaders: Food52 co-founders Amanda & Merrill. This post was brought to you by our friends at S.Pellegrino, who are as passionate about celebrating fine food as we are.

Today: Merrill recreates a Campari cocktail inspired by a recent visit to Rome.

Campari and Orange Cocktail

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My husband, Jonathan, and I got back from our vacation to Rome nearly 3 months ago, but we still talk about it almost every day. Our conversations typically go something like this:

Jonathan: "Man, that trip was perfect."

Me: "I told you you'd love it, didn't I?"

Jonathan: "I thought there was no way Italy could live up to all the hype. But I was so wrong."

Me: Smug, self-satisfied smile.

It was one of those trips where everything just fell into place. The weather was stunning (we had one day of rain out of 10, and the rest were sunny, breezy, and warm with no humidity to speak of); we balanced tours of the ancient forum and the Vatican with a full exploration -- and excavation -- of the Testaccio farmers market, where locals go for the best produce, meats, and cheeses; we walked miles and miles each day, punctuating our treks with sensational meals and frequent gelato breaks.

More: How to Make Olive Oil Gelato

Perhaps the best part of the trip was the apartment we rented through Airbnb. Just three or four blocks east of the monument of Vittorio Emmanuel (a.k.a. The Wedding Cake), it was tucked away on a cobblestone street in the neighborhood of Monti, which as far as we could tell is the Brooklyn of Rome. It's full of art galleries and funky little boutiques, and just around the corner from us was a piazza where the young and hip gathered for aperitivi starting at dusk, perching on and around a small fountain at the center of the square with their beer bottles and Aperol spritzes.

I studied in Italy for a semester during college, and the evening scene at the piazza brought me back in a way that wandering the tourist-filled streets could not. At a casual, chic bar on the square called The Full Monti (get it?), Jonathan ordered a Peroni and I chose a Campari and blood orange cocktail. It was called a Serpenti, and at the bottom of the cup was a spoonful or so of demerara sugar that crunched between my teeth, flooding my tongue with sweetness as I sucked up the fruity, slightly bitter drink through a straw. We sat on some steps next to the fountain in the dwindling light, enveloped by the happy din of voices all around us, feeling very Italian.

The Serpenti

Makes one cocktail

Ice cubes
1/4 cup Campari
3/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange (or regular orange) juice
2 teaspoons demerara sugar
3 slices of orange

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom


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This post was brought to you by S.Pellegrino; the recipe above was inspired by their Off the Menu culinary experience.

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I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


Sam1148 August 20, 2014
I think I'll do this for my Doctor Who party with a Peter Capadli cocktail.
mcs3000 August 20, 2014
Kenzi W. August 19, 2014
I am making this tonight, too, and that is final.
Julie M. August 19, 2014
Cue the Italy nostalgia. I'm making this tonight!