The love it or hate it bitterly herbaceous Italian cocktail
This punchy iconic Italian cocktail with its uncompromising herbal bitterness is currently enjoying something of a revival.
The Negroni is an acquired taste. If you are not used to bitter aperitifs it may come as something of a shock. Campari is the culprit. The gin and vermouth are there to soften the blow. The Negroni is a drink you will love or loathe and sometimes at the same time in equal measure.
Like a lot of cocktails, its origin is hazy. It differs from the Americano only by the substitution of gin for soda water. And as such it is purported to have come about when Count Camillo Negroni asked bartender Fosco Scarselli to pep up his favourite aperitif at the Caffè Casoni in Florence Italy in 1919.
An alternative version of its history is that another Count de Negroni invented the drink in Senegal in 1857.
But whatever the origin the Negroni family didn’t hang about and capitalised on its popularity by founding the Negroni Distillery in Treviso, where they made ready-made versions of the cocktail.
Now at nearly 100 years old, this venerable cocktail is listed as one of The Unforgettables on the list of the International Bartenders Association official cocktails.
And it truly is an unforgettable gin cocktail. Once tasted, never forgotten. You will learn to love its bitterness.
Follow this recipe for a brilliantly vermillion cocktail.
45ml / 1.5 oz Gin
45ml / 1.5 oz Campari
45ml / 1.5 oz Sweet Red Vermouth (I used homemade rosé vermouth in the photo)
Try not to use your special craft gin unless it is particularly robust like the Beefeater Blood Orange Gin I used in this variation. It will be bullied out by the Campari. It must be a good quality gin though.
To find out how to make your own vermouth read my full post here.
Add all 3 ingredients to an old-fashioned glass packed with ice or a couple of large chunks.
Stir. This is one of those cocktails that should not be shaken. The tiny shards of ice that inevitably would get mixed into the cocktail will alter the mouthfeel of the finished drink.
Traditionally orange zest twist. But here I’ve used a flamed blood orange wedge and a flamed sprig of rosemary.
Tip: if you really find this too bitter try adding a splash of lemonade. It will transform the Negroni ~ just don’t tell anyone…
To find out more about Negroni week run by Imbibe Magazine when bars and restaurants raise money for charity click on this link.