Florence, Italy, 1919. Count Camillo Negroni is sitting at the bar of the Caffe Casoni on a hot day, cooling off with his favorite aperitivo, the Americano – a refreshing mix of Campari, soda water, sweet vermouth, and a lemon wedge. It’s been a tough day and he’s looking to take the edge off. He asks the barman, Forsco Scarselli, to strengthen the drink a bit. Scarselli pours him another, this time replacing the soda water with gin and the lemon wedge with an orange peel.
The classic Negroni cocktail was born; and it became a big hit, with Italians flocking to Caffe Casoni to order one for themselves. The Negroni family even founded a distillery in Treviso and produced a ready-made version of the cocktail, which they sold as Antico Negroni 1919.
The aperitivo is an integral part of an Italian’s day. This pre- or post-dinner light cocktail is a traditional part of Italian culture. In Italy, it’s considered to be a bit of a grandpa drink. In America, however, it is a hugely popular drink that has fueled through-the-roof sales of Campari. To capitalize on its popularity, Campari created its own batch-made and bottled Negroni. Their bottled aperitivo is made with a London dry gin (which originates from a non-disclosed distillery) and Cinzano sweet vermouth (another Campari brand).
Campari’s bottled Negroni is just okay. I honestly wouldn’t recommend buying it for yourself. Besides, the ingredients are easy enough to find and the drink is very easy to make at home.
Try This Classic Negroni Recipe
There are, of course, really interesting takes on and modifications of the Negroni. In a future post, I’ll document some of them (like the Negroni Blanco and the Negrolio). Today, though, in celebration of Negroni Week, we’re going to make the classic, traditional Negroni.
When selecting a gin, it’s best to choose one that’s going to a bold one that will stand up to bitters and vermouth. Choose one that’s resinous and juniper-forward – like a London Dry or Plymouth style gin. Tanqueray No. 10, Aviation, and Boodles are all really great options. If those gins pack too much of a punch, opt for a New Wave gin – these take off some the juniper bite and are more floral and aromatic. Hendrick’s cucumber flavors make for a complex Negroni, while the Japanese gin Suntory ROKU will result in a fine, delicate Negroni.
While there are other, more economic bitters (like Aperol and Contratto) that can be used to modify this beverage, Campari is the preferred and traditional choice.
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
Pour gin, vermouth and bitters into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with an orange peel.
What were your thoughts of this one? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome! Contact me, or enter a comment below.