Red, bitter and strong, the negroni cocktail was created for Count Camillo Negroni when he strolled into his local watering hole in Florence and asked the bartender to rev up his usual Americano (Campari, red vermouth and soda water), by substituting a splash of soda for a shot of gin.
Today, this red-orange tipple is one of the world’s bestselling cocktails. It’s giving that other fiery bitter-sweet Italian, the Aperol Spritz a run for its money, and considering the boom in gin, it’s cheers to the Count.
Indeed, the negroni has proved itself to be more than just a cocktail over the last century. As Paolo Tonellotto, mixologist and Campari brand ambassador points out: “Not many drinks can boast such inspirational credentials and stand almost unrivalled when it comes to being the most talked about cocktail in the UK right now.”
The ingredients may seem simple enough – one part Campari, one part sweet vermouth, one part gin – a tantalizing trio for the taste buds, “but its complex taste means it truly grows with age. Once we’ve outgrown the sweet cocktails, choosing a negroni is the ultimate mark of graduation to a refined palate,” says Tonellotto.
Here’s how to master a negroni cocktail
“You simply need to line up your spirits with equal parts Campari, red vermouth and gin, and pour them over a large block of ice that half-fills a heavy-weight glass tumbler,” explains Tonellotto.
“The size will chill without unnecessarily diluting the spirit. And it looks pretty stunning. Importantly, never shake a negroni – so as James Bond wouldn’t say, have it ‘stirred, not shaken’. Then add a neat orange wedge or twist an orange peel over the drink to release the oils and build on the aroma.”
Thirsty to know more? How about these six negroni facts…
1. Campari recipe remains a mystery
While Campari is the key ingredient in a negroni, only three people know what exactly goes into it, and the secret recipe is stored in a vault in Milan.
2. There are British twists on the negroni
You can make a Scotch Negroni by swapping the gin for a malt whisky, or an Irish Negroni with Irish whiskey.
3. Just like the Count, you can tailor the negroni to suit your taste
You can change the ratio of the recipe. While the 1:1:1 ratio is generally preferred by most, if you want to go heavier on the gin, vermouth or Campari, you can use 2:1:1 instead.
4. Garnish makes a difference
Traditionally, negronis are served with an orange slice, but some bartenders twist a carefully sculpted orange rind and rub it around the glass, so drinkers get a zesty hit when sipping their drink.
5. Negroni is a popular pet name
Ernest Hemingway loved the drink so much he named one of his dogs Negroni.
6. Orson Welles was a fan
Orson Welles loved a negroni. He discovered the cocktail while shooting Black Magic in Rome in 1947 and is quoted as lauding the drink’s balance, saying: “The bitters are excellent for your health, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.”
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