Meet the team behind the Campari Academy

The Campari Brand Ambassador team has been busy with a strong start to 2019 launching the Campari Academy and touring all major capital cities, whilst engaging and educating over 900 bartenders. Enjoying the momentum, the team is gearing up to deliver some exciting Masterclasses and Trainings for the second half of the year, while developing some interesting plans to keep “raising the bar” in 2020.

We are taking this opportunity to let you learn a bit more about the characters leading our Campari Academy (Tris, Jay, and Luca), and the most recent masterclass: Amari Club, held during Sydney Bar Week.

Hosted at Eleven in the heart of Sydney’s CBD [see the Sydney Bar Week guide for event details], Amari Club participants experienced an in-depth exploration of regional Italian culture, socio-historical influences and learned some production secrets behind the exciting Amaro category.

-Daniele Pirotta-
National Advocacy & Engagement Manager
Campari Australia

Luca Baioni.

Luca Baioni

What is your favourite drink style and why?

I’d drink anything that is well made and delicious, but tiki is hands-down my favourite style, or should I say, cultural movement. It has been single-handedly created by one of the most creative geniuses that ever worked behind the stick bar, and I love the fact that tiki is about Escapism.

Producers all over the world are making new amaro, even here in Australia. What are your thoughts on it?
I think that if the category grows with quality products, we can all safely gain from it. Within our Campari Group portfolio, Braulio and Averna have been around for well over a century and – while I’m a bit old school when it comes to drinks – I am also very curious to try new entrants in the category, especially if they showcase a regionality through the use of unique native or exotic herbal ingredients.

Luca, I heard Amaro Braulio is your favourite. Tell us what’s special about it?
Firstly, if I didn’t believe that all our amari were delicious, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Braulio: I mean, do you know where it’s made? Bormio, up in the Alps, just about a three-hour drive from where I was born. It’s a small village nestled away in the middle of an astonishing valley, with natural hot spring water spas and an incredible alpine charm. When you drink Braulio, you are immediately transported to that beautiful place.

It is also one of the very few amari that undergoes a long wood maturation, more specifically in huge Slavonian oak barrels.

We know some of the botanicals in Braulio. Any curiosities about the lesser-known ones?
Amongst wormwood, juniper, gentian, and yarrow musk, the latter is probably the most obscure to bartenders, even though it’s largely used in lots of naturopath infusions and tea blends. It’s a perennial, herbaceous plant that grows at high altitudes, up to 2300m above sea level. Its beautifully delicate white flower has a strong sweet scent, but infusing them gives you a fragrant, aromatic bitterness. Fun fact, a simple paste of yarrow was used in ancient medicine to stop blood flow from cuts and wounds, while it’s likely to make your nose bleed if you rub it inside a nostril. How peculiar!

Lastly, what’s your favourite English word?
Beauty. And I use it way too often.  

Terroir, provenance and the regionality of Amari is so important.  What do you think makes them so uniquely diverse and vibrant? 
With Amaro, the concept of terroir is taken to the next level. Most Amari were born in different pockets of Italy as family recipes. What the surroundings had to offer, the influence of climate and regionality overall are all ultimately influential elements in the final product. 

At the same time, I believe that Amari need to be also defined by what I like to refer to as “Human Terroir”, that is to me the influence that regional, cultural and family traditions have had on the way those herbs and roots are treated and the way flavours were macerated, hot water infused, decocted or distilled. There is a sense of alchemy and the apothecary when it comes to the “human” elements of Amari.

Tristram Fini.

Tristram Fini

What is your favourite drink style and why?
Anything frozen! Sounds weird, but I love the complexity required to achieve the balance between alcohol, sugars, juices, and dilution. Getting the perfect texture and consistency, while bringing out the right flavour, is an incredible feat.  Whether it’s a Frozen Pina Colada from Jacoby’s or the Negroni Slushy that Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern created for the Negroni Week afterparty, there’s room for everybody here.

First experience with Amari?
The first bitter thing I remember having was San Bitter at my Nonna’s house. I thought it was a strawberry soda but was ‘bitterly’ disappointed when it was not.  Fast forward a few years to when I was finishing up one of my Nonna’s Easter feasts.  Having overindulged on the secondi, she pointed me in the direction of this dark, mysterious and bitter-sweet drink from Sicily.  It was called Averna and she told me it would settle my stomach; the rest is history.

Tris, all the buzz around the amaro category – where is it going?
A renaissance of bitter and amaro is occurring around the world. It is exciting to see varied demographics of consumers in different countries acknowledging the bitter spectrum of flavours and making it part of their favourite flavour profiles.  Australia and the US have recently jumped on board – not only with bartenders making amazing drinks with these ingredients – but with a refreshed consumer demand for more availability of brands and styles.

This trend will continue, and as small new world producers join the category, we will experience well-established historical brands cementing their presence in the hearts of bartenders and the category going from strength to strength.

Tris, tell us something interesting about Amaro Averna.
The lemon used for making Averna is a protected species grown in a unique location in Sicily.  The Limone di Siracusa (Syracuse lemon) is grown and sold in higher numbers than any other lemon in the EU geographical protection of origin program. They are big, aromatic, and have thick skins packed with amazing oils.

Also, one of Averna’s other disclosable ingredients is pomegranate pith. I just found out this Mediterranean wonder-fruit was apparently used to help with erectile dysfunction! Who are we to know?

What’s something not everyone knows about you?
I cried like a baby at my wedding in March.  The tatts and beard are there to make me seem like a tough guy, but I’m a sentimental romantic deep within.

Jay Lambert.

Jay Lambert

If you could have a drink with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? and what would you recommend?
Probably Shaun Micallef (the Australian comedian, actor, and writer) would be pretty entertaining, probably drinking something like Mezcal Negroni, and great to share a laugh over a few hours. (I would envisage things escalating pretty quickly!)

What is your favourite cocktail?
Pre-batched Mi-To straight from my fridge, or a G&T with lemon.

What was your first experience with bitter and amari?
To be honest, it was Angostura in an LLB as a kid in my uncle’s pub – pretty boring I know – on the other hand I pride myself on championing the use of bitters back in the day as a way of creating structure and palate length when most drinks were mainly fruit and sugar.

Jay, tell us a cool fact about yourself.
Outside of Brand Ambassador and Campari Academy hours, I am a passionate yoga instructor. Still trying to get Tris and Daniele over for an introductory session with no luck so far.  I live in hope! 

I also don’t eat things with eyes. Eye-tarian? Is that a thing?

Jay, what is the one thing to absolutely know about Cynar?
The fact that it is pronounced ‘chee-nhar’ and not as ‘sai-nhar’ with a bogan accent. 

On a serious note, the only well-known and disclosed ingredient in Cynar is cynarine, a potent bitter extract by cold water percolation from artichoke leaves. Out of the 12 other secret ingredients we can safely assume one of them is cinchona bark thanks to Australian labelling requirements stating that the product contains quinine. Don’t tell anyone!

Terroir, provenance and the regionality of Amari is so important.  What do you think makes them so uniquely diverse and vibrant?
Focusing on the term terroir specifically in Amari feels a little inappropriate in my opinion. 

‘Terroir’ generally encompasses all the natural microclimate (soil type, aspect, rainfall, temperature) and farming practices in a specific habitat that ultimately result in the agricultural product having certain characteristics of that time, place and season. 

With Amari there are so many broader historical influences on some of these recipes which were mainly guided by accessibility and availability, but also medicinal, cultural, and symbolic influences.  

I ultimately believe that provenance and regionality are defining features, rather than just terroir.  

The Cynar Hi-Ball.
Cynar Hi-Ball

  • 45ml Cynar
  • 10ml Camomile, grapefruit and quinine (tonic) syrup
  • Soda to top

Build ingredients in a highball glass. Garnish with a grapefruit or a lemon wedge.