Isabel’s Bitter recipe is the Campari cocktail you have when you’re not drinking

Kate McGraw at Isabel, Bondi.

It is February, and leap year or not this month is the shortest of them all. Which makes it the perfect month to indulge in some sobriety should you feel so inclined — #FebFast and all that.

But there is only so much soda and lime one can drink, and sometimes you need some real flavour.

Cue this Bitter from Bondi’s Isabel. It drinks like a proper drink, and tastes like one, too: that’s because they take Campari and — with the assistance of some rotary evaporator wizardry — remove the alcohol from it.



  • 250 ml de-alcoholised Campari
  • 125 ml homemade verjus
  • 625 ml filtered water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a PET bottle or soda stream.
  2. Chill to 1 degree Celsius and give one charge at 41 PSI.
  3. Refrigerate again, and give an additional two charges each 30 minutes apart from the previous.
  4. Serve straight into a highball glass over high density ice.
  5. Add an orange segment for garnish.

For the de-alcoholised Campari:
Using a rotary evaporator distill 1kg of Campari under vacuum at 65 degrees Celsius until all but a thick sugar syrup remains (ie, distill out all of the alcohol and most of the water). There should be approx 100g of Campari syrup remaining per 1L distilled. Rehydrate the syrup by combining 100g Campari Syrup with 100g filtered water.

Maggie Beer’s verjus makes a good substitute for the homemade stuff.

Recipe by Kate McGraw, Isabel, Bondi and makes a 1L batch.