Campari Red Diaries


Title: Campari Red Diaries- Every Cocktail Tells a Story

Publisher: Davide Campari, Milano, S.p.A

Pages: 116

Price: Not for Sale

Can you judge a book by its cover? Conventional wisdom says no. Except for instances where the cover itself renders the book a collectible. Campari Red Diaries- Every Cocktail Tells a Story (CRD in short) is one such example that can adorn any coveted library solely on the strength of its cover. But obviously, there’s much more under its hood.

Weighty and resplendent, the silken fabric bound hard cover  makes a solid statement even before the book’s  oeuverture. A little surprise is in store as you discover the engraved ruby red exterior- oh so reminiscent of Campari- is actually a casing from which the real book emerges in an ink blue avatar. I was privileged to receive the book as a gift from Aspri Spirits Pvt Ltd, Campari’s importers in India, who took every care to ensure that it arrived mint fresh at my door step.


A Film and Cocktail Saga


As the title suggests, the book is all about Campari cocktails and stories woven around them. CRD has three distinct sections, most prominent being the narration of a short movie called Killer in Red. The movie is available on the world wide web, but like most stories coexisting in print and celluloid, it is recommended that you read the book before you watch the movie.

The other two sections of the book illustrate the Behind the Scenes  and a “recipe a month” account called Every Month Tells a Story by twelve ingenious bartenders from around the globe. The book’s stunning photographs make the presentation a reader’s delight.

From the outset, CRD makes its motive crisp and clear with a statement of concept given in one of its initial pages:

A bartender’s shaker doesn’t contain liquids and spirits, but the evolving elements of a world under construction: places, memories, sensations, experiences, knowledge. …..

Rouge et Noir Characters

The magnum opus i.e. Killer in Red is a story that moves back and forth between two eras- 1980s and the present day. The main protagonist in each of these eras has an uncanny similarity- in appearance as well as audaciousness. Both these characters are played by Clive Owen, an acclaimed British actor known predominantly for his art films, as also for his notable work in mainstream cinema.

Clive portrays his Armani dressed self in the current day and as Floyd Goodwin- a legendary bartender in the 80s flashback. Floyd’s flamboyance is exemplified by the belief among his patrons (pronouncedly women) that each of his cocktails has a meaning relating to their past and the future. Floyd himself does not deny the fable but trivializes the whole issue by quipping:

Women love it when men look into their past and can predict their future

A Tale of Two Eras

The Killer in Red story starts from the closing hours of a swanky cocktail bar set in the present day after a teasing exchange between the barteller and Clive. There on, it flashes back to the 80s when the barteller was an apprentice to the much sought after Floyd. The flashback swings back to the current era intermittently to keep pace with the narration.


But Floyd is not the only centre of attraction in this histoire. There is also “The Red Lady” who comes from a French aristocratic background, choosing to live life on her own terms. The Red Lady’s role increases in significance as the story develops.

campari red lady

Chic Campari cocktails are quite expectedly whipped up throughout the story. Most significant amongst these is the Killer in Red cocktail, drenched in its enigma of seduction, beauty and passion. Utmost composure is maintained by the producers and consumers of cocktails, notwithstanding the pulsating environment around.The saga culminates at dawn in a Hollywood Villa with a feeling of déjà vu to the reader.


Killer in Red cocktail

Ingredients: 22.5 ml Campari, 22.5 ml Cinzano 1757 Vermouth Bianco, 15 ml Grand Marnier, 22.5 ml Chamomille infused gin, 1 drop of rose essence

Preparation: Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir with a bar spoon. Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe. Finish with a drop of rose essential oil and serve

Glass: Coupe

The Other Pieces

High quality behind the scenes images in the next section provide relief from the intense story just gone by. The section is followed by mini stories related to ingenious Campari cocktails along with recipes devised by bartenders from 12 different countries. The recipes and the stories are certain to engage you in Campari passion all year long. You even find some ruled “diary like” pages towards the end to record your own stories.

Paolo Sorrentino, famed Italian writer/director known for his oblique style of film making has done a remarkable job of encompassing two eras in such a short script. CRD also carries Paolo’s interview where he shares the excitement of having the opportunity to revisit his teenage years in the 1980s through this story. Being a fan of the Noir genre, he admits to taking inspiration from the novel “Los Angeles Noir”, even though subconsciously.



To me, working with Campari means meeting someone I’ve known all my life but I have never met. Now we’ve finally met.

-Paolo Sorrentino

There is another interview in the book- that of Clive Owen who admits to having acquired sharp bartending skills (no hand model was commissioned by Campari for the movie) post the movie. Clive also rattles out the recipe of Killer in Red cocktail (see above) with effortless ease.

And just in case you are wondering if the Red Lady has got something to do with the Killer in Red Cocktail- go on and read the book. Let your imagination run wild before you hit the play button.



Col Joe
wirtten by: Col Joe
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