The Carpo Lavoro – bitter and bitter means sweet???

  • Post published:May 14, 2021
  • Post category:Cocktails

There is whole array of drinks based around mixtures of Campari and some kind of vermouth, out of which the Milano Torino is probably the simplest. It simply consists of qual parts of Campari and sweet vermouth. Lenghtening this mix with soda water renders an Americano cocktail. Now the idea behind today’s cocktail, the Carpo Lavoro is replacing the vermouth in an Americano with coffee. Sounds weird? As it will turn out, this is an excellent idea!

I tried to find out more about where this Americano riff came from, which turned out to be impossible. I stumbled upon it in this video by Steve the Bartender, but neither does he mention where he got it from, nor did I find anything more on my own. Doesn’t really matter, as it tastes absolutely awesome!

Carpo Lavoro cocktail

The flavor composition of the Carpo Lavoro

The recipe might be a bit surprising to some. In an Americano, the sweet vermouth balances the bitterness of the Campari. (At least to some extent, the drink is still quite bitter.) Replacing the vermouth with coffee might seem weird now, as coffee is also quite bitter. Surprisingly, the mix of Campari, coffee and soda water turns out pleasently bitter-sweet (without any sugar added!) and the bitterness is not overwhelming at all!

How much sugar does Campari contain?

Obviously, the coffee bitterness and the Campari bitterness are very different from each other. While the prior can be rather sharp and slightly mineral (on its own) the latter is very herbaceous. When mixed, the coffee bitterness seems to “mute” some of the Campari bitterness and in doing so brings out a lot of the Campari’s sweetness. Yes, Campari actually has a lot of sweetness. This very interesting article claims its relative density is at 22 degree Brix, which corresponds to the density of a solution of 22 grams of sucrose in 100 grams of water. However this value is biased by the alcohol content. This Norwegian web shop (actually the public company that has the national monopoly on selling alcoholic beverages) states the sugar content is 25 grams per 100 ml. So I think we can safely say that Campari, by weight, contains around 20% sugar (which is a lot!).

Carpo Lavoro cocktail

 60 ml Campari
 90 ml Coffee
 60 ml Soda water
 Orange slice for garnish

1

Add all ingredients to a glass, fill up half way with crushed ice and give it a brief stir.

2

Top up the glass with more crushed ice and garnish with an orange slice.

Ingredients

 60 ml Campari
 90 ml Coffee
 60 ml Soda water
 Orange slice for garnish

Directions

1

Add all ingredients to a glass, fill up half way with crushed ice and give it a brief stir.

2

Top up the glass with more crushed ice and garnish with an orange slice.

Carpo Lavoro

Tasting notes

A look at the flavor map reveals that the Carpo Lavoro is best described as bitter-sweet. When I tasted it for the first time, I was quite astonished by the amount of sweetness. Of course, it is still fairly bitter, but not at all unbalanced. The Campari’s herbaceousness still comes through very well, but is accompanied by strong coffee notes. Overall, this drink is quite smooth, but light and almost refreshing, due to its very low ABV. Therefore, I think that this is an excellent drink to serve to guests on a summer afternoon or for brunch as you can have a couple of them no trouble at all! Just make sure they don’t hate Campari, maybe 😉

Flavor map for the Carpo Lavoro cocktail

Finally, if you like this drink at want to try something a bit more proof-y, you should definitely check out our Tiki-esk Negroni variation!

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