Florence, Italy (1919)
A classic cocktail with a surprising number of devotees, the Negroni is distinguished by its use of Campari, the bitter-orange aperitif that is – to put it kindly – an acquired taste. But I’ll say this: once you do acquire the taste, there’s no going back.
The Negroni is a great appetite stimulant – perfect before a big dinner. It works equally well on the rocks (in spring and summer) or up (in fall and winter). You’ll want a good, sharp, juniper-forward gin here – one that won’t get beaten down by the other two bullies in the drink.
The drink has an interesting origin story: Italian-born Count Camillo Negroni had spent time in America as a cowboy and in London as a bon vivant. On his return to Florence in 1919, he asked the bartender at the Caffè Casoni for a stronger take on the popular Americano cocktail, swapping gin for soda water, and serving it up (or on the rocks). It caught on locally, and his namesake cocktail became a hit internationally. Anthony Bourdain is on record as a fan; Gaz Regan is famous (infamous?) for his “finger-stirred Negroni.”
There’s something magical about a well-made Negroni: it’s like a reset button for your day, signaling the start of a great night when anything is possible.
Hardware: Mixing glass, Jigger, Barspoon
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass (or Old Fashioned glass)
Spirits: London Dry gin (recommended: Beefeater, Tanqueray) or Plymouth gin
Mixers & Liqueurs: Italian vermouth (recommended: Carpano Antica, Noilly Prat, Dolin), Campari
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Orange twist
Chill a cocktail glass (or Old Fashioned glass) in the freezer at least ten minutes.
In a mixing glass about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
1 oz gin
1 oz Italian vermouth
1 oz Campari
Stir well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. As an alternative, this drink may be served in an Old Fashioned glass over rocks.
Pinch an orange twist over the drink to express oils onto its surface, then rub the twist around the glass rim to coat. Garnish with the twist laid across the surface of the drink.