Drinks

The Negroni

The Negroni is a must-have in any aspiring bartender’s repertoire. Luckily it is quite easy to make, consisting of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari.  The added benefit of its simplicity is that the ingredients are easy to remember in the early morning hours, when you can’t remember much else.This helps you retain the appearance of being classy and sophisticated while also ensuring that you are properly served when ordering from a novice bartender.  You really don’t want to settle for a simple gin and juice when your heart is set on this deliciously bitter apéritif.

A Little Background

The cocktail in question has its origins in Florence Italy, first being ordered by the Count Negroni in the early 1900’s.  Legend has it, the bartender serving the count named it in his honour when he asked to add gin to a traditional Americano (honestly, why wouldn’t you?).  Really, the most important part of this story is the Count’s phenomenal moustache, but I guess Negroni lovers like me also owe the man a great deal of gratitude for his creative genius.

The Count Negroni

The Count Negroni

Traditional Negroni

The traditional Negroni consists of equal parts sweet vermouth (also known as red vermouth), Campari and gin.  My preference for the sweet vermouth is Martini Rosso as it has a good flavour, is fairly inexpensive and is readily available wherever fine spirits are sold.  The cocktail should be served over ice, in a rocks glass, with a twist of orange for garnish.  The bitterness of the Campari combined with the sweetness of the vermouth make for a perfect combination of flavours.

1 ½ oz Gin
1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
1 ½ oz Campari
Orange twist for garnish

Fill a rocks glass with ice (or a single large ice cube) and pour in the ingredients. Gently stir to combine the flavours. Add garnish.

The Traditional ingredients

The traditional ingredients.

Variations on the Negroni

The simplicity of the Negroni recipe lends itself to many variations.  Once you feel that you’ve been properly acquainted with this classic cocktail, why not try one of these clever versions?

Negroni Americano

The Negroni Americano is actually a variation of the Americano cocktail and is likely what The Count Negroni had in mind when ordering his drink.  This modified Negroni is made by topping off your cocktail with soda water (usually a couple of ounces).  This is also a perfect drink for those who have a hard time getting used to the bitterness of the traditional version.

1 ½ oz Gin
1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
1 ½ oz Campari
Soda water
Orange twist for garnish

Fill a rocks glass with ice (or a single large ice cube) and pour in the ingredients, with the soda water going in last. Gently stir to combine the flavours. Add garnish.

Negroni “Sbagliato” (The Wrong Negroni)

The soda water and Gin in the Negroni Americano could be substituted with sparkling wine, giving life to the Negroni Sbagliatio (meaning Wrong Negroni, in Italian).  Please note that gin can always be added to this version, for those craving a stronger, more dry taste.

1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
1 ½ oz Campari
Sparkling wine (Prosecco or Asti)
Orange twist for garnish

Fill a rocks glass with ice (or a single large ice cube) and pour in the ingredients, with the sparkling wine going in last. Gently stir to combine the flavours. Add garnish.

The Cheeky Negroni (The Lillet Negroni)

This variation is likely my favorite.  I may even prefer it to the traditional version as it has a slightly more subdued bitterness and is a tad sweeter.  This version of the Negroni cocktail calls for equal parts Lillet Blanc, Aperol and gin served in the same manner as the more traditional version.

1 ½ oz Gin
1 ½ oz Lillet Blanc
1 ½ oz Aperol
Orange twist for garnish

Fill a rocks glass with ice (or a single large ice cube) and pour in the ingredients. Gently stir to combine the flavours. Add garnish.

Negroski

For those Negroni lovers who also love vodka, don’t worry, the Eastern Europeans have you covered!  Simply swap out the gin and add some premium vodka.  My recommendation would be Stolichnaya.

1 ½ oz Vodka
1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
1 ½ oz Campari
Orange twist for garnish

You know the rest!

At the end of the day, the Negroni cocktail and most variations have a very simple formula:

Deliciousness = Bitter + Sweet + Spirit

With this in mind, you could easily make your own variation, while probably stumbling on some already well-known favourites.  Try substituting the Campari for Cynar (another Italian bitter, derived from artichokes) for a “Cyn Cin” (pronounced “chin chin”) Negroni.

The "Cyn Cin" Negroni...mmm, fantastically bitter!

The “Cyn Cin” Negroni…mmm, fantastically bitter!

Regardless of what variation you choose, this is a great cocktail and one that any aficionado of fine drinks is sure to enjoy.  Salute!

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