As an alcohol drinker, I loved the bitter drinks. Amaros were among my my favorites, especially the vibrant red Campari. Campari with seltzer and orange wedge was a go-to order, especially in summer.
So you can imagine my excitement when a friend mentioned Sanbitter to me, saying it tasted like Campari.
I posted on facebook asking if anyone knew where I could buy some. I was about to hop in the car to drive to Doylestown to pick some up at Altomonte's, a wonderful Italian market out there, when it occurred to me that Mancuso's, a tiny, ancient Italian store and cheese shop in my own neighborhood might carry them. And they did! Since then I have rarely been without this beverage.
Let's talk about the flavor. Like Campari, Sanbitter isn't for everyone. The dominant flavor is, as the name suggests, bitter, with herbal and floral notes playing supporting roles. It's balanced by sweetness from a good amount of sugar.
The bottle is the right size for a sweetened beverage--3.5 ounces. I serve it one of two ways for the most part. I like it straight, poured over a big, square cocktail-style ice cube with an orange wedge. I let the ice cube begin to melt a bit before drinking because a little water softens the edges here just like in a booze-based cocktail.
But most often, I mix it with ice, equal parts seltzer, a dash of orange or grapefruit bitters, and a little fresh lemon juice. This is a dead ringer for Campari and soda, and it's extremely fun, festive, and refreshing--especially in the warm weather.
Sanbitter can be a little hard to find. Check your local Italian grocery stores if you have them. You can also order it online. If you know you like Campari, you can confidently order this. If you aren't sure where you come down on bitter beverages, make sure you try it before you buy it!