Get Set for Negroni Week! cover

Get Set for Negroni Week!

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Italians are a passionate people. Their passion spreads to all aspects of life, including food and drink. They take meals seriously, with plenty of flavors and textures in the food they consume. Wine is always on the table, along with liquors to help aid in digestion and to open the palate for what is about to be enjoyed. Is it any surprise that in this environment one of the most classic of cocktails, based off Italian aperitifs, was created? One that sits with Martinis, Margaritas, and Old Fashioned as paragons of the bartenders’ menu? From June 1st to the 7th, bars from around the world will be celebrating Negroni Week, dedicated to this uniquely complex and balanced cocktail.


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Get Set for Negroni Week!

International Celebration

Italians are a passionate people. Their passion spreads to all aspects of life, including food and drink.

They take meals seriously, with plenty of flavors and textures in the food they consume. Wine is always on the table, along with liquors to help aid in digestion and to open the palate for what is about to be enjoyed.

Is it any surprise that in this environment one of the most classic of cocktails, based off Italian aperitifs, was created? One that sits with Martinis, Margaritas, and Old Fashioned as paragons of the bartenders’ menu?

From June 1st to the 7th, bars from around the world will be celebrating Negroni Week, dedicated to this uniquely complex and balanced cocktail.

The Negroni

The Negroni

Americano Recipe

The Negroni is a simple drink, with a surprisingly clear-cut history. It is based off a traditional Italian cocktail, the Americano.

1 oz./30 mL Sweet Vermouth

1 oz./30 mL Campari

Soda water

Garnish: Orange slice

Pour the Campari and vermouth into a glass over ice, then top off with soda water. Garnish with the orange, and enjoy.

Heading to America

How much soda you use is a topic for debate; some recipes call for a splash, some call for 2 parts soda to the 1:1 ratio of Campari and vermouth.

What is not up for debate is that it was popular among Americans visiting in Italy as they fled the dried out United States during Prohibition. As people were coming to Italy for a cocktail, one Italian noble was heading to America.

According to a book by Luca Picci called Sulle Trace del Conte (On the Count’s Trail), Count Camillo Negroni fled Italy when it was discovered that his passions had led to fathering a child out of wedlock. He became a cattle rancher and a gambler during his exile to Canada and the United States, and took to the Wild West lifestyle.

It was not until 1912 that he returned to his native Italy, and years after that before he ventured to Florence.

Birth History

Gaz Regan tells a story in his new book, The Negroni, about an encounter between the Count and a lost American reporter.

The reporter asked if he spoke English (while Negroni was dressed in full cowboy gear). His response was “You’re tootin’ I do, hombre.”

There came a day in 1919 that the Count needed something a little stiffer than the popular Americano. He went into his usual bar, Caffé Casoni, and asked bartender Fosco Scarselli for an Americano, but with gin instead of soda water. Thus the Negroni was born!

Mixing Things Up

Mixing Things Up

Bottles and Barrels

With all the current interest in classic cocktails and their culture, the Negroni has been taking a more prominent place on cocktail menus all over the country.

David Wondrich claims it is “one of the world’s indispensable cocktails.”

Author Sir Kingsley Amis once wrote about the Negroni that “This is really a fine invention. It has the power, rare with drinks and indeed with anything else, of cheering you up.”

When cocktails started to go into bottles and barrels, the Negroni was one of the first ones considered by mixologists. It has been considered a top notch classic cocktail for decades, and in 2013 the editors of Imbibe took notice and did something about it.

Cocktails with a Purpose

Negroni Week was created in 2013 to celebrate this iconic cocktail and to help raise money for local charities.

It was not long after that Campari joined the celebration, and the number of participating bars jumped from 100 to over 1,300.

This year is looking even bigger, as the participating bar count has almost doubled to just less than 2,500. Last year saw bars in forty states and eighteen countries bring out philanthropic cocktail lovers. For every Negroni purchased during the week, that bar will give $1 to a local charity of their choice, ensuring that this generosity is going to where it is needed most. Last year the week raised over $120,000 for local charities around the world.

If you are in one of the larger cities in the United States, Beefeater Gin has jumped in to help you find the top bars in that city with this handy passport.

Changing Proportions

Much like other classic cocktails, one of the things that endear it to bartenders and guests is how flexible it can be.

Its openness for interpretation is something that has encouraged people to experiment with the basic recipe, from finding the right vermouth or aperitif to add to the mix or changing the proportions of the cocktail.

Writer Jason Wilson once commented that it is “just about the perfect cocktail…so simple that even the worst bartender can’t mess it up too badly.” And he is correct. The proportions and elements are very accepting of variation.

The Classic

The Classic

Negroni Recipe

Here are some inspirations for you to spring board off of. But first, you have to know the original:

1 oz./30 mL Gin

1 oz./30 mL Sweet Vermouth

1 oz./30 mL Campari

Garnish: Orange twist

Stir all of the ingredients with ice in a glass. Add orange twist and serve.

Boulevardier

Now that you have the basics, here are some variations on a theme.

1 oz./30 mL Bourbon

1 oz./30 mL Sweet Vermouth

1 oz./30 mL Campari

Garnish: Orange twist

Add all of the ingredients into a mixing glass over ice. Stir, then strain into a coupe. Add the orange twist and serve.

This was named after a Parisian magazine Boulevardier, founded by American Erskine Gwynne in the 1920s as a French version of The New Yorker. Harry McElhone added the cocktail to his book Barflies and Cocktails, mentioning Gwynne by name. There is a recipe that is very similar to it from the same bartender. You may even call it this cocktail’s pal.

Old Pal

The proportions are similar to the Boulevardier, but the whiskey is switched to rye and the vermouth switches to dry.

1 oz./30 mL Rye whiskey

1 oz./30 mL Dry Vermouth

1 oz./30 mL Campari

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Add all of the ingredients into a mixing glass over ice. Stir, then strain into a coupe. Add the orange twist and serve.

There is a theory that Mr. McElhone made a mistake when he published this version in his first book, and the 1927 version was a correction. This version was also published in The Savoy Cocktail Book, giving it its own place on a bartender’s menu.

White Negroni

The proportions are similar to the Boulevardier, but the whiskey is switched to rye and the vermouth switches to dry.

1.5 oz./30 mL Gin

.75 oz./20 mL Dry Vermouth

.75 oz./20 mL Cocchi Americano

Garnish: Orange twist

Add all of the ingredients into a mixing glass over ice. Stir, then strain into a large old fashioned glass with ice. Add the orange twist and serve.

The gin used in these versions typically leans towards a lighter, more floral flavor profile like you would find in The Botanist or Hendricks gin, both bronze medal winners in the 2014 New York International Spirits Competition.

Negroni Sbagliato

Negroni Sbagliato

Negroni Sbagliato Recipe

This is one of those happy accidents that every inventor longs for.

1 oz./30 mL Sweet Vermouth

1 oz./30 mL Campari

1 oz./30 mL Sparkling Wine

Garnish: Orange twist

Pour the sweet vermouth and Campari over ice in a tall old fashioned glass and stir. Top with the sparkling wine, give it one more stir, and then serve.

The legend is that in the midst of a busy shift, a bartender in Italy grabbed the wrong bottle while making a Negroni. Before the mistake was noticed, the customer who received it loved the taste and would not relinquish the cocktail. A new star was born. Sbagliato, incidentally, means “wrong” or “mistaken”.

Oaxaca Negroni

Earthy mescal fits very well with the vermouth, and reigns in a little of the Campari’s bitterness. The whole cocktail delivers a richness which is much different than its original, more herbal parent.

1 oz./30 mL mescal (Mezcal de Leyenda Guerrero, winner of a gold medal in the 2014 New York International Spirits Competition, is one we recommend.)

1 oz./30 mL sweet vermouth

1 oz./30 mL Campari

Garnish: Orange slice

Pour the ingredients over ice into a tall old fashioned glass and stir until chilled. Garnish with the orange slice and serve.

Self Expression

The variations on the Negroni can be endless. There has not even been a mention here of the unique flavors different bitters and vermouths can add, from a hint of Cynar to the subtle differences between Noilly Pratt and Dolin for your vermouth.

A solid base gives everyone who mixes cocktails free reign to develop, either by design or by happenstance, his or her own unique version of this classic. There are some bars, like the Planter’s House in St. Louis, where the Negroni and all of its descendants have their own part of the menu.

Party for a Purpose

Party for a Purpose

Spread the Love

The love of the Negroni has blossomed into a weeklong celebration of this timeless treat. The passion that bartenders have for it has led to inspired variations and has helped the global spread of the cocktail.

Every variation and unique twist just adds to the legend that one man created in Italy almost a century ago. If this libation still has not touched your lips, this is a great time to go out and experience it. And if you have experienced it, head out to any of the hundreds of restaurants participating in Negroni Week (June 1-7) and find a new variation.

You will help out a local charity while finding a new way to fall in love with this simple gin cocktail all over again.