The Negroni is, undisputedly, the cocktail of the moment. It’s bracingly bitter, herbaceously complex, but refreshing, and with Gin currently experiencing a surge in popularity, it’s no wonder the classic Negroni is experiencing a revival.
With its associations of Italian style and la bella vita, the Negroni has always had a blush of romanticism about it. Like all of the best classic cocktails, it also comes shrouded in lore: supposedly, the cocktail was invented when one Count Camillo Negroni marched into the Caffè Casoni bar in Florence in 1919 and asked for a stronger version of his Americano (a mix of Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda). The story goes that he’d developed a taste for spirits after working as a rodeo cowboy in the American West. And thus, the Negroni was born.
Or was it? Dig past the (probably) apocryphal origin story and suddenly we have a rival Count Negroni (though this one’s called Pascal and hails from France), a cocktail called the Milano-Torino that supposedly preceded even the Americano, and other conflicting written evidence about the Negroni’s origins. We may have to consign the cocktail’s beginnings to the pages of history, then, and focus on enjoying the tipple in the present.
The makings of a perfect Negroni seem relatively straightforward. Famously, the classic recipe calls for 1:1:1 ratios of its three main ingredients, making this very simple to mix. But then it starts getting complicated: shaken or stirred? Served up or on the rocks? And what kind of glassware should you use?
To begin, a Negroni, like any short, spirit-based drink without fruit juices to emulsify, simply doesn’t need to be shaken; shaking will actually diminish the drink by changing its mouthfeel and dilution.
Unlike the Martini, the Negroni works well served up or on the rocks. Instead of a handful of quickly melting cubes, though, a large block or sphere of ice will chill without over-diluting.
As for the sweet vermouth, there are a number of different options. Carpano Antica is an excellent all-rounder for Negronis, while Cinzano Rosso certainly works, as does Martini Rosso. For a Negroni of extra bitterness and complexity, rich and potent Punt e Mes is also a good selection.
For garnish, orange is the classic choice. Some like to flame their twists, while others drop in whole slices for that extra citrussy boost. We find a classic orange twist provides the perfect hit of citric oil without leaving any additional lingering bitterness.
Recipe: The Perfect Negroni
25ml London Dry Gin
25ml Sweet Vermouth
In a mixing glass, give all three ingredients a few quick turns over very cold ice until blended. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice block or sphere and garnish with an orange twist #ChinChin