Classic bitter aperitif that just happens to be alcohol free

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The Italians, as so often, were ahead of the pack in non-alcoholic alternatives to classic drinks.  This bitter aperitif, a replacement for a Campari, was first launched in 1961.  Sold in packs of ten in charming little 10cl bottles, it looks fabulous poured over ice and clashing with a slice of orange.  It’s style all the way, but does the content match the insouciant charm of the packaging?

The first impression is of a syrupy depth, with an almost vanillin tone to it.  This gives way to a classic mouth filling bitter afternote.  Perhaps a few extra bitters added might make it even more fabulous – I found the hit of bitter Just wasn’t quite enough.  And in a time when the new makers of drinks work so hard to incorporate natural ingredients and flavourings, it’s disappointing to see the ingredients: water, sugar, fructose syrup, flavourings and colourings. The finish is bitter and lingering, and the best bit about it, and a twist of orange peel is a definite must.  The reviews are enthusiastic so it obviously has a following, but to my mind it’s not quite right for modern tastes. Buy for the look of it, for imagining you’re sitting in a square in Taormina, with Etna looming in the background. Bring it out for that summer lunch outside and enjoy how much the glorious red contrasts with your white linen.  Keep the lovely little indented bottles to put a single daisy in each one on a windowsill.  But if you like a really hard hitting bitter aperitif, maybe look elsewhere.

Makers Notes

Discover Sanbitter Rosso and be inspired to transform every aperitif into a pleasant and intense moment

From the producer of the world famous San Pellegrino Italian Sparkling Drinks with its signature Limonata and Aranciata sparkling drinks, Sanbitter Rosso is a non-alcoholic aperitif beverage that is full of flavour, intense red colour, sparkling taste and cheerful personality. First introduced in 1961, Sanbitter Rosso is available in the UK for you to enjoy it in the late afternoon or early evening. It is a great mixer for your favourite alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktails and mocktails. Its unmistakable taste is pleasantly bitter, with the balanced sweetness, packed with fruit flavours and spices. Comes in a handy 100ml format – just right for many cocktail and mocktail recipes.

Tasting Notes

  • Colour: deep cranberry
  • Nose: syrupy
  • Taste: vanillin bitterness
  • Finish: lingering

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Other Drinkers' Ratings

San Pellegrino
Bottle size (ml)
Calories Kcal/100ml
Principal ingredients
Water, Sugar, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Carbon Dioxide, Flavourings, Black Carrot Concentrate, Acid (Citric Acid), Colour (Carmine)
Bitter vanillin
Shelf Life
6 months or more
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