It was the best of drinks ... a far, far better one than I have ever known.
With apologies to Dickens, an ode toItaly's favorite aperitif, Campari.
We're in Bologna, about 8 on a moonlit night and the Piazza Maggiore is crowded with drinkers having their aperitifs and pre-dinner snacks.
At first bar, order for a straight Campari bitter brings the full-on set-up: three fingers of Campari in a tall glass; separate containers for ice, swizzle sticks, orange slice, soda water, mini-sandwiches, peanuts. 3 euros.
Under adjacent arcade, barman at second cafe responds to request for Prosecco bitter by topping up tumbler with sparkling wine kept in icebucket. Snacks are set out on bar; one helps oneself. 3.50 euros.
Third place, on sidestreet, is one of Bologna's hot spots. Calls itself Nu-Lounge. Has intelligent cocktail list, all 8 euros: Martinis, Muddles, Fashion, Frozen. From page labeled Classics, ask for Negroni: equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and gin. Barman snags two bottles in one hand, third bottle in the other, upends all three. Does this often, it appears. Best snacks of the night, too.