The Kemsing Red

Written by Suzie // May 28, 2020

My relationship with Campari has been a somewhat tempestuous one. At 21, my grandmother gave me a bottle of Campari that had, undoubtedly, languished in her drinks cabinet (which is a bit of a misnomer as the only other thing it contained was a bottle of Baileys and a bottle of Ginger Wine) for the best part of 30 years, with the sage advice that I must throw a party and enjoy it. Back at university, a huge house party and a comparatively huge bowl of ‘punch’ seemed to be the best use for this mysterious elixir. These were the early days of alcopops and Lambrini, so this seemed incredibly sophisticated. So, armed with a bottle of cheap vodka and the Campari, my housemates and I threw caution to the wind and created… a disaster.

Moving on a few years and this wonderful Italian aperitif and I have become firm friends. I’ve come to love that bitterness, and learned how to balance it, and so, if you have not experienced Campari before, prepare to have your socks knocked off! It is an essential ingredient in a Negroni, and this cocktail is a subtle take on a Negroni, but one that leaves you, the drinker, in control of the bitterness. However, what I love more than anything about this drink is that it reflects the wonderful warmth and colour of the Kemsing Gin label.

Other than gin, the other main ingredient in this is Aperol, of the Spritz fame. Head to any Italian city on a Summer’s day and you will see this almost phosphorescent drink on just about every outdoor table. Usually mixed with prosecco and soda, this is slightly sweeter than its Campari cousin and works perfectly with the Campari and the Kemsing in this cocktail.

This is definitely a summer drink and the addition of the grapefruit juice and the gingerbread syrup (recipe below) allows you to remain in control of the sweetness. I like my cocktails bitter and strong, but if you prefer yours with a sweeter note, add more syrup and hold off on the grapefruit!

Ingredients-wise and equipment-wise, this is fairly simple.

You will need:

60ml Kemsing Gin

30ml Aperol

15ml Campari

Dash (or to taste) Gingerbread Syrup (see below)

Grapefruit juice to top up



First steps:

Pop a champagne flute in the freezer to chill while you make the cocktail. If you are making this for friends, the frosted glass (which will happen as soon as it hits the air) will seriously impress everyone!

Add your gin, Aperol and Campari to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake and shimmy until it is well combined and chilled.

Take a quick sip and add your Gingerbread syrup to taste, and then pop the lid back on and give it another shake. You can’t shake it enough! If it is a hot day, this will chill and dilute it a little, making it a perfect garden party drink, or for sipping on a terrace/window ledge/on the front step…

Strain into your chilled flute and top (again, to taste) with the freshly squeezed (or bottled) grapefruit juice.

Take a photo and tag @kemsingginuk with your wonderful sunny creations!

Homemade Gingerbread Syrup

Of course, the stuff you get at Christmas in well-known coffee shop chains is lovely, but this one has a little darkness to it, as well as the sweetness, and is a great cocktail addition to keep in your fridge.

You’ll need:

200ml water

100g Dark Brown or Demerera Sugar

1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon golden syrup

Pop everything into a heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Strain into sterilised bottles and keep in the fridge for up to six weeks.