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A little bit strong, a little bit bitter, a little bit sweet, and — plot twist — even a little bit smoky and savory: The Mezcal Negroni may be the best Negroni of all.
Why we love this recipe
As a die-hard gin lover, it’s tough to admit this, but a Mezcal Negroni is at least as good as the original. And if we’re really being honest, at least right now, it might be my favorite. This twist on the classic is:
- Herbal (like gin, but also not like gin!)
- Magically smoky and savory
- Perfect for any season, but especially good for wintertime
And really, the cardinal rule is this: There is no such thing as too many terrific variations on a Negroni. (Though, note: Like “martini,” the word itself is already plural for a reason. You don’t need more than one at a time.)
What you’ll need
Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this twist on a classic cocktail recipe.
- You guys, not gonna lie. Buying mezcal is a bit of an art form — luckily one that lends itself to delightful, if pricey, experimentation. Here I’ve featured a widely available bottle of reposado (which, just like for tequila, means it was rested in oak for more than two months but less than a year). Some people are purists for joven (young, unrested) varieties for their purity of taste, but resposado has an almost whiskey-like element that I enjoy in this cocktail (and in general).
- Luckily, there’s nothing more straightforward than buying a ruby-red bottle of Campari.
- For sweet vermouth, you’ve got several options. You can’t go wrong with our favorite Carpano Antica. Other good choices: Punt e Mes (which is more bitter), Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino (well-balanced), and even Dolin.
- An orange twist, to garnish: Just grab your vegetable peeler and swipe a thin, pith-free sliver of peel from a well-washed orange. You could use a thin slice of orange instead if you prefer.
How to make it
Here’s what you’ll do to make a perfect Mezcal Negroni. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get the details in the recipe card below.
- Into an ice-filled mixing glass, pour the Mezcal.
- Add the vermouth.
- Add the Campari and stir very well.
- Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Add an orange twist and serve.
Expert tips and FAQs
Mezcal is a class of agave-based spirits handmade in Mexico. As Max Falkowitz wrote for Serious Eats:
“All drinks come from somewhere, and reflect the values of those that make them. But nothing captures a place and a people like mezcal, a spirit that Mexicans have been making the same way for hundreds of years. That is, with Herculean labor guided by intuition and hard-won experience.”
Quick spoiler that may slightly blow your mind: Tequila is actually a type of mezcal, and not the other way around.
Learn lots more about mezcal in his terrific article here.
Yes! Just remember to share it widely if you do.
If you’d like to serve this drink at a party, you can scale it up to keep things simple. Into a pitcher, pour 1 1/2 cups mezcal, 1 1/2 cups Campari, and 1 1/2 cups sweet vermouth. Add 1/2 cup filtered water. Chill well. Then pour individual servings into rocks glasses over ice.
More great Negroni variations
- 1 1/2 ounces mezcal
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 1 1/2 ounces Campari
- Orange twist, to garnish
- Place plenty of ice into a mixing glass.
- Pour in the mezcal, vermouth, and Campari.
- Stir well until chilled.
- Pour into a single old-fashioned glass, garnish with twist of orange peel, and serve.
- It's a little bit challenging to advise on what kind of mezcal you should use in this recipe. This spirit can be on the pricier side because of the painstaking way in which it's traditionally made, but it's still worth spending some time and money sampling different styles to learn about your favorites. In terms of age, some people are purists for a joven ("young," unaged, clear) bottle for its purity of taste. Most recently, I've been enjoying this cocktail with the reposado bottle pictured in the ingredients section of the post. A few months of aging in oak gives it a nice additional element. As for individual brands, they vary widely, sometimes even batch to batch — so you'll just have to taste and see what you love.
- Use a good-quality vermouth. We love Carpano Antica, Punt e Mes (which is more bitter), and Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino. Dolin is also a fine choice.
- If you'd like to serve this drink at a party, you can batch it by scaling up. Into a pitcher, pour 1 1/2 cups mezcal, 1 1/2 cups Campari, and 1 1/2 cups sweet vermouth. Add 1/2 cup filtered water. Chill well. Then pour individual servings into rocks glasses over ice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 6mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 3gSugar: 27gProtein: 1g