Using Campari or Aperol Instead of Bitters in a Cocktail

I wondered to myself this morning if using Campari or Aperol instead of bitters in a cocktail would work. I’ve seen bartenders and mixologists rinse a glass with a different spirit as part of making a cocktail. The process is simple: you pour just enough of the liquid into the glass to coat the sides, then pour out the remainder.

I’m working on a variation of the Basilicious Bliss Old Fashioned that originally called for Peychaud’s Bitters, but I started wondering if a different approach would be worth trying. The variant will have rye whiskey instead of bourbon, Thai basil instead of sweet basil, and ginger-lemon syrup instead of demerara. I need a bitter component, and may very well stick with Peychaud’s. So, I decided to ask ChatGPT what it thought of my idea.

ChatGPT to the Rescue!

Me: Can you use a Campari or Aperol rinse instead of bitters in a cocktail?

ChatGPT: Yes, you can use a Campari or Aperol rinse instead of bitters in a cocktail, but keep in mind that it will significantly change the flavor profile of the drink. Bitters are highly concentrated and typically used in small amounts to add complexity and balance to a cocktail without dominating the overall taste.

If you choose to use Campari or Aperol as a rinse, you’ll introduce the distinctive flavors of these aperitifs into the cocktail. Campari has a bitter and herbal profile with notes of orange, while Aperol is slightly less bitter with pronounced orange and herbal flavors. Depending on the cocktail recipe, this substitution can lead to a different, but potentially interesting, drink.

To use Campari or Aperol as a rinse, you would typically pour a small amount (usually just enough to coat the inside of the glass) and then discard the excess before mixing the remaining ingredients in the glass. This technique imparts a hint of the aperitif’s flavor to the cocktail without overpowering it.

Experiment with proportions to find the balance that suits your taste preferences and the specific cocktail you’re making.


Good to know! (Also: I’m still leery of AI, in general, but starting to come around to it for purposes such as this.)

If it works, great – if not, I’ll stick with the Peychaud’s and try a rinse on another cocktail in the future. Either way, you’ll find the variant in the recipes section here on Bourbony in the very near future!


Bob Sawyer


Hi! I’m Bob!

If it’s got bourbon in it, I’m drinking it. And if it’s really good, I’m gonna figure out how to make it, and share it with you. Because I’m good like that.


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