Negroni Recipe: Classic Cocktails
Sometimes reinventing the wheel is fun. Other times, you just want a classic cocktail. If you ask me, the Negroni is a perfect drink. It's stiff, bitter, a little bit sweet and a little bit herbal. It's a gorgeous, party-dress red, and it hails from Italy. What could be better?
Your Negroni questions, answered: First up, Negroni ingredients
This is an easy one. A Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth (vermouth rosso), garnished with an orange twist. You can serve it straight up in a cocktail glass, but we prefer the slow melt of a large ice cube in a single old fashioned glass.
You’ll find variations on the theme, but none will be as good as the original. (How’s that for a firm point of view?)
What does a Negroni taste like?
Oh, you guys. A Negroni tastes like the perfect strong cocktail. It’s balanced like a ballet dancer on pointe. Good gin contributes bracing strength and herbal notes. Campari is bitter and herbal and a little astringent and in competition for the title of my favorite child. A good sweet vermouth (vermouth rosso) does have sweetness to it, but it also tastes of bark and spice and has a little bit of acidity.
What gin is best for a Negroni? What vermouth is best for a Negroni?
You have kind of a lot of questions, don’t you? I don’t have a strong personal preference on this topic, so I went researching a bit online to see what others say. What I found exceeded all expectations.
A few years ago on his site Drinks and Drinking, Jason O’Bryan, a San Diego-based bartender and writer, nailed it. (Pun totally intended. Wait for it.) He said,
“I get it, no one looks for the best Negroni because saying ‘best Negroni’ is a little like saying ‘best orgasm’ — yeah, there are shades of difference there, some better than others, but even a terrible one is still better than almost everything else in the world. But. If you could have the best one every time, wouldn’t you?”
Jason O’Bryan, it’s hard to argue with that.
It’s also hard to argue with the meticulous, if limited, taste testing that follows that statement. In the end, O’Bryan prefers Tanqueray gin and Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino, and I can’t argue there, either (though as I said, I’m basically happy with any Negroni in my hand, ahem). We often have Bombay Sapphire in the house, and recently I’ve been drinking down a bottle of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin that was sent to me as part of a sponsored post for Vermouth last year. They’re all different. They all work.
Who invented the Negroni?
As with many classic cocktails, the precise origin of the Negroni isn’t known for sure. But here’s the oft-cited rumor:
The Negroni was invented in Florence, Italy, circa 1919, at what was then called Caffè Casoni and now goes by Giacosa Caffè (or Caffè Cavalli, since Roberto Cavalli restored the café in 2002 while opening his clothing boutique next door).
Count Camillo Negroni wanted a stronger version of his favorite Americano, and bartender Forsco Scarselli complied, swapping in gin for the soda water (and an orange twist for the lemon twist).
Is a Negroni a digestif?
Nope, it’s an aperitif, meant to be sipped before dinner to stimulate your appetite. Its balanced, bitter profile does the trick.
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth (rosso)
- 1 ounce Campari