Back to basics

Conclusion: No it isn’t.



The official line is as follows: “Campari is an alcoholic spirit obtained from the infusion of bitter herbs, aromatic plants and fruit in alcohol and water. Many have tried to guess the number of ingredients: some say there are 20 or 60, but others list the ingredients at 80. To this day, alcohol and water are the only known ingredients of its special and secret recipe. Its vibrant red colour, intense aroma and distinctive bitter taste make it extremely versatile, and the perfect base for some of the most famous cocktails around the world.” There are other takes. Here’s mixologist Colleen Graham on The Spruce website: “Its prominent flavour is that of a strong bitter orange similar to if you were to drop orange bitters directly on your tongue (though that’s not recommended as it will ‘burn’ your taste buds). It has many uses in cocktails and is used in some of the best recipes of all time. Yet, for those unaccustomed to the taste of Campari-forward drinks such as the popular Negroni, Americano, or Campari and soda, it can be overwhelming.”

Conclusion: It is and it isn’t.


The simple answer is that it isn’t. Luxardo is a liqueur and many of its products, made with fruits such as apricots and maraschino cherries, are at the sweeter end of the scale. That said, Luxardo Amaro Abano is described the quintessential after-dinner cordial, and the company states: “Amaro Abano originated in 1952. Amaro means ‘bitter’. The herbs in this Amaro grow wild in the Euganean Hills and are infused along with cardamom, cinnamon and bitter orange peel.”

Conclusion: It can be.


De Kuyper makes scores of liqueur products and has a long and impressive history of spirits production, including in the areas of gin and genever.

The company takes its drinks-making very seriously, so when it does a bitter it does it properly. De Kuyper Oranjebitter is distilled from bitter oranges, which are known for their huge sour taste, as well as malaga peel and a hint of anise esprit.

Conclusion: Yes it is.



Amaro Montenegro is a clear, amber-coloured bitters that is somewhat sweet with a spicy, citrus taste. Somewhat less bitter than other bitters, its bitter notes come at the end of the taste. It is made from more than 40 herbs and spices from around the world. Some tasters have guessed that its ingredients include vanilla and orange peel. Amaro Montenegro, at 23% abv, can be served as an apertif with soda water. It is made in Zola Predosa, near Bologna (Italy).

Conclusion: Yes it is.


Underberg was first introduced in Germany by Hubert Underberg in 1846. It is filled with mysterious herbs to aid digestion and refresh your spirit after a heavy meal. The exact number and identity of those herbs are still heavily guarded by the Underberg family 165 years after its creation.

The Huffington Post, which loves it, says: “So what does it do? Well, it sets off a bomb in your stomach that frees you from the agony of over-indulging in bratwurst and spätzle

(among other things). We want to be honest and fair with you: your first Underberg is an eye-opening experience. The flavour can be described as intensely herbaceous, a bit liquoricy with the fire of an alcohol fit to be called a digestive aid. It is fire water. But lovely fire water that we happen to seek out whenever we can.”