Forsco Scarselli, Caffè Casoni | Firenze | 1910s
Unknown origin | Italy | 1950s

1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz Campari
1 oz London Dry gin
Garnish: orange wheel

The ultimate aperitivo (before-dinner) cocktail, the Negroni has become ubiquitous and triumphant on the winning side of the love/hate battle. For some, the bitter-orange Campari is — to put it kindly — an acquired taste. But once you do acquire the taste, there’s no going back. You’ll want a good, sharp, juniper-forward gin like Tanqueray here — one that won’t get beaten down by the other two big-flavor bullies in the drink. The drink has an interesting origin story that goes like this: Italian-born Count Camillo Negroni had spent time in America as a bronco-busting cowboy and in London as a dashing 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 seltzer. It caught on locally, and eventually his namesake cocktail became a hit internationally. Proponents of this wonderful story have yet to explain why the Negroni didn’t appear in any cocktail recipe books or on any menus until the 1950s, though. Go figure! People drink, they tell stories. Anthony Bourdain was on record as a fan; Gaz Regan was famous (infamous?) for his naughty “finger-stirred Negroni” in simpler times. I’ve called it “the drink for when you don’t feel like having a drink.” 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.


© 2022 Wexler of California / Dave Stolte