It stands to reason that if “Every Cocktail Tells a Story,” as the Campari Red Diaries campaign suggests, then every story deserves a great cocktail.
That is the premise behind Campari’s calendar series this year, which includes a short film called Killer in Red, a photography book showcasing world-class bartenders and their self-created Campari cocktails, and a video series of those bartenders making their drinks while providing a voiceover narrative about the story of their specific cocktail’s inspiration.
Here is a quick tour through the year from January to December. Each month focuses on one bartender, with director Ivan Olita behind the camera. Booze never looked sexier.
January – “Anita” by Thalita Alves, Australia
“There’s only one thing I adore almost as much as dancing: mixing drinks. Creating a cocktail isn’t that different from developing a choreography. It’s just another way to tell a story.” After moving to Australia, Thalita Alves found her passion for telling stories in liquid form. Her favorite story was that of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi who fell in love with Anita, a person of strength and resilience and one of the greatest of all Brazilian heroines.
Alves’ drink “Anita” captures the passion of that love affair with Campari and blood orange juice (to symbolize Italy), Sagatiba Velha cachaca and green limes (to symbolize Brazil), and macadamia nut orgeat for Australia, the country Alves now calls home.
February – “Quintessenza” by Nagore Arregui, Spain
Greeting the world with a smile is a major part of Nagore Arregui’s life. “There are only two ways to conquer me,” she says. “Make me laugh or challenge me.” She tells the story of how a single email did both. In that email, she was invited to be a member of the secret community, “the Red Quintessence,” a “legendary brotherhood that aims to save the world with mankind’s most powerful weapon: the smile.” Arregui’s drink, served in a perfume atomizer, celebrates the power of smile.
March – “Around the World with a Negroni” by Jennyfer Lee and Jorge Cordero, Dominican Republic
Meet Tico, one of Jennyfer Lee’s and Jorge Cordero’s most intriguing customers. Tall and thin, always dressed in white, Tico always carried an old suitcase and would only utter two words at the bar: “Negroni, thanks.” One day, Tico said he was leaving town and told the story of his travels around the world. This drink is dedicated to Tico and his intrepid spirit.
April – “A Lucky Roman Americano” by Luana Bosello, Italy
It began one Italian summer day in a piazza while Luana Bosello was waiting to interview for a bar job. A handsome man with a camera interrupted her thoughts, saying he was an American photographer. She told him about her interview and he said that if it was a success, she must come back that night and celebrate. She got the job and returned to the piazza. She and the photographer spent the night together, walking through the streets of Rome. Their parting was bittersweet. Months later, Bosello saw a photo spread in a magazine with the title, “How a Dreamy Girl Helped Me Become a Lucky Roman Americano.” Luckily, her paramour’s email address was listed at the end of the story.
May – “Alpha” by Patrice Plante, Canada
While backpacking through Mexico with a friend, Patrice Plante stopped at a little off-the-grid bar, where he met an elderly man who called himself Alpha shared his life story as a soldier, a novelist, and an adventurer. Plante’s drink encapsulates that meeting, using tequila (which Alpha was sipping), lemonade (which Plante’s teetotaling friend was drinking), fresh raspberries (that the friends had picked while hiking), orgeat, and, of course, Campari.
June – “Kula Negroni” by Julie Reiner, United States
Hailing from Hawaii, Julie Reiner recalls her last visit home. She watched a fisherman battling something enormous that turned out to be a small island! “I watched the palm trees emerge slowly from the water … when the worn-out fisherman fell asleep on the sand, I went over to that Eden.” There, she picked the most exquisite fruits. When she woke, she found a beautiful, red strawberry in her hand. “I realized that night, a mixture of dreams and reality, my island and my childhood had said goodbye to me.” The Kula Negroni recalls both that island and her childhood.
July – “L’Été Anisé” by Jan and Hannah Van Ongevalle, Belgium
This father-and-daughter team has the perfect balance of personality. Hannah is the extrovert; Jan is the thinker. After 20 years in the fashion industry, Jan found himself seduced by the bar world. When Jan creates a drink, he thinks of who will drink it. For L’Été Anisé, he envisioned three Milanese girls enjoying a drink after a day of shopping. Campari marries with sour orange, RinQuinQuin peach aperitif, Absinthe, and a splash of tonic. “When my daughter and I work together, magic happens,” says Jan. “Just like in a great cocktail,” counters Hannah.
August – “A Hora Incomparável” by Fabio La Pietra, Brazil
The name of Fabio La Pietra’s drink captures his memories of watching his grandmother cooking in the kitchen. She would tie on her apron and let a record play, often with the song “Ora Senza Pari” (“The Unmatched Hour”).
September – “The Spirit of Rock” by Yiannis Samaras, Greece
It began on a summer evening when Samaras heard a beautiful rock ballad wafting on the breeze. The two voices complemented each other, much like Campari and gin. Samaras walked toward the beach to try and find the singers, but no one was there. Hoping to capture the experience, he created this cocktail.
October – “Beyond the Veil” by Jim Wrigley, United Kingdom
When he travels, Jim Wrigley always carries a book. As he reads, he makes notes in the margin so that after his trip, the book tells the story of his journey. While in San Francisco’s Chinatown, he lost his book, which had the beginnings of a great cocktail recipe in it. After looking all over Chinatown, he noticed a young woman in a window. She dropped a flower down to him and placed his book and a glass of tea on the window sill. Wrigley had found not only his book, but the missing ingredient for his cocktail.
November – “Commedia All’Italiana” by Seba Atienza, Argentina
As a boy, Atienza was a bartender at Festival international de Cine de Mar de Plata. He was well liked, and one day a customer gave him a ticket to a major film preview. When he arrived, he discovered that his customer was a famous director and the preview was for one of his films. Atienza couldn’t decide if the film was bitter or sweet, but he hoped to capture its complexity in his Commedia All’Italiana cocktail.
December – “Chepari” by Bettina Kupsa, Germany
Bettina Kupsa owns a bar in Hamburg, a city of contrasts where anything can happen. One night on Christmas Eve while leaving her bar, she watched as two musicians played a festive tune that sounded like it belonged on an island at a beach party. Kupsa worked hard to recreate the sensation of the music. She captured it with Campari, cherry and tonka-infused tequila, lemon and sugar, and orange foam.