Last weekend, Guzzle traveled to St Lucia as a specially invited guest of Jamaican drinks manufacturer J Wray and Nephew for the Caribbean launch of the 2015 Campari Calendar.

J Wray and Nephew was bought by the Italian brand last year, which makes sense since Campari is apparently a HUGE drink in the Caribbean. So huge, that St Lucia, we were told by Hugo Fiorenzo, the Marketing Director  for J Wray and Nephew, has the highest consumption per capita in the world.

Campari girl

A Campari girl serving Campari at the calendar launch in St Lucia.

Having never tasted the drink before I was naturally curious as to what made this beverage so popular, not only in St Lucia but Jamaica and Tobago among other islands.

First off, let me just say this: Campari is an acquired taste. It is apparently made with herbs and spices. The actual recipe is a top secret akin to that of Angostura and KFC.

My companions, Lyle Beckles and Dietrich Guichard of Alstons Marketing Company Limited (AMCO), the Campari distributors for Trinidad and Tobago, described it as a bitters. And bitter it is.

campari cupcakes

Campari cupcakes

Whatever the ingredients, Campari has a bitter aftertaste which the palate of many islanders seem to favour. During the event, it was served mixed with juices such as grapefruit, which I didn’t like and as a spritzer with Prosecco. I preferred this combination of sweet to offset the bitterness.

Some folks. I observed, preferred it with just soda. Beckles,AMCO’s Business Development Manager, Spirits, said it’s the perceived natural ingredients that is responsible for its growing popularity. In St Lucia, some men use it as an aphrodisiac, women, for its supposed healing benefits.

campari At eating places around the island, it is certainly the drink of choice to wash down any meal.

In Tobago, Beckles said, an early influx of Italians brought the drink with them and today the locals have adopted it as their own.

There will soon be obvious efforts to market Campari more in Trinidad, possibly starting in the more rural areas. Hopefully by then it would have grown on me.