Whether it’s your first time or your 50th, it’s impossible to visit Dante, the Italian-inspired bar in New York’s West Village, without ordering their flagship Garibaldi. Creative director Naren Young and his team have taken the simple, two-ingredient Italian recipe consisting of Campari and orange juice and elevated it to a modern classic. As Young tells it, “We didn’t invent the Garibaldi, but we perfected it.”
Belonging to the extended school of Italian aperitivo cocktails, the drink takes its name from Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian revolutionary who played a pivotal role in the unification of Italy. Campari’s trademark red hue represents the scarlet shirts worn by Garibaldi’s freedom fighters in the north, while the orange juice nods to Sicily’s abundant citrus in the south. In its homeland, the drink also travels under the more straightforward name of Campari and orange juice, although it remains a benchwarmer compared to the all-star aperitivo classics like the Aperol Spritz and the Negroni.
But thanks to Dante, Garibaldi fever is spreading. The popularity of the fluffy, sunset-hued drink has sparked inspired takes on the Italian cocktail in places as far afield as Kansas City, where a frozen version can be had at The Campground, and Austin, where Carpenters Hall offers a tequila-infused rendition. “It’s always flattering to have someone riff on or copy something you’ve done,” says Young, adding, “There are no original ideas left anyway. We’re all borrowing ideas from one another.”
While many modern Garibaldis tip their hats to Dante and its famously fluffy orange juice—each batch freshly made to order from a Breville juicer kept behind the bar—some bartenders are taking their Garibaldi game to the next level, from spritzified twists to more advanced, technique-driven interpretations. Here are five that show just how far you can stretch the two-ingredient template.
A riff on the cult cocktail perfected by Japanese bartenders, made with Campari, grapefruit and tonic, Bar Pisellino’s Spumoni is spiked with gin and a sweet-savory pink peppercorn syrup. The star of the drink, however, is a foamy layer of Ruby Red grapefruit juice courtesy of a Breville juicer. “It’s the only way to get that texture. It’s so fresh. So active,” says bar director Jon Mullen. Chilled fresh grapefruit juice, never more than 30 minutes old, is always behind the bar, and half of a grapefruit is juiced à la minute for each Spumoni. “People are drawn to the color and the visuals of the drink, and instantly triggered by that thick layer of froth,” says Mullen. “Every time people see a server walking the drink across the room, we’ll have a spike in Spumoni orders. Some nights we’re so busy we don’t even list it on the printed menu.”
Jose Cordon’s Garibaldi Spritz marries a California citrus medley and custom bitter blend with the refreshing familiarity of the bubbly spritz. “Instead of using Campari or another specific type of bitter, I like to have a bit more control of the bitter and sweet components of the drink,” says Cordon, who blends equal parts Mezzodi Aperitivo (“bubblegum candy citrus notes”), St. George Spirits’ Bruto Americano (“dry, savory rosemary notes”) and Contratto Aperitif (“lighter orange flavors and bright finish”). The self-described “citrus junkie” turns to LA’s farmers’ markets to stock up on Primavera tangerines, known for their floral characteristic and high acidity, and Murcott mandarins, which bring extra sweetness and produce a full-textured juice. “The Garibaldi is such a simple cocktail, but the fact that it really relies on the quality of the ingredients is what makes it so beautiful,” says Cordon.
Groove is in the Heart
It was the vessel itself, a tall 16-ounce supersize Collins glass, that inspired 701West bar director Salvatore Tafuri to create his Groove is in the Heart cocktail, a Technicolor tribute to the Garibaldi by way of the Screwdriver. “We’re in the middle of Times Square,” says Tafuri, “and I always think of Blade Runner with all of these different colors from the billboards surrounding us. I imagined what a Blade Runner Screwdriver might look like.” The bitter component is introduced via two different flavored ice cubes—one made from fresh blood orange juice and blood orange liqueur, and the other from fresh orange juice and Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto. The cubes are then stacked, Jenga-style, in alternating colors, into the glass before adding a splash of soda water. The cocktail itself—a pre-batched mix of clarified orange juice, vodka and orange and lemon liqueurs—is translucent and presented in an accompanying bottle, which is then poured over the flavored ice. “We like to say you get one and a half drinks,” says Tafuri. “We encourage our guests to interact with the cubes and smash them up a bit with the metal straw. Play around and see how the taste starts to change.”
Fermented Citrus Garibaldi
When making Negronis at scale, a lot of zestless oranges are left hanging around. Matthew Bax, owner and head bartender of Bar Americano in Melbourne, put those naked oranges to good use in his Fermented Citrus Garibaldi. “Fermentation is a great way to bring a new life to discarded produce,” says Bax. A kombucha SCOBY is fed with orange juice, sugar and a house blend of Italian vermouth. When the batch is ready, it’s strained, chilled and combined with Campari, Aperol and orange bitters. “Good oranges don’t need much more help than Campari and Aperol,” says Bax. The drink is then batched in single-serve Garibaldi-branded soda bottles and poured into a double Old-Fashioned glass over a large ice cube, along with a splash of fresh orange juice.
At Neptune in the Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel in central London, bar director Sean Fennelly takes the seemingly simple two-ingredient session drink to the next level with an unexpected jolt of pure nitrogen. “Dante’s Garibaldi was a definite inspiration for me,” says Fennelly. “It’s one of the definitive cocktails of the last five years—such an elegant, satisfying drink. Their ‘fluffy’ orange juice is a real work of gentle genius, and its amazing use of texture was the jumping-off point for the Jelena.” The Jelena pairs Amaro Montenegro and cold-pressed pineapple juice. But instead of fluffy, Fennelly goes foamy. After experimenting with a variety of siphons charged with different gases, he settled on pure nitrogen (N2), which is typically used in nitro cold-brew coffee. “It gives it this incredibly smooth and creamy Guinness-like texture,” he says. “It’s a loving tribute to Dante’s Garibaldi, with hopefully enough points of difference that it stands on its own two feet.”