Are You a Negroni Person?
If you are starting out on a cocktail journey, Negronis are the first drink I recommend memorizing. The recipe is easy to make because the proportions are equal. The ingredients can be found at any decent grocery store or bottle shop. You can even make endless variations at short notice and still impress a large group of people. Sign me up for everything that 1) sounds moderately impressive and 2) allows me to be moderately lazy.
According to legend, the Negroni is a riff on the Americano cocktail, requested in 1919 by Florentine Count Camillo Negroni at the Caffe Casoni. Essentially, the Negroni replaces the Americano’s soda water and lemon garnish with gin (usually London Dry) and an orange slice. The Negroni family later built Negroni Destillerie in Treviso and started selling pre-mixed bottles of Negronis (so the next time you read about “revolutionary” ready-made cocktails, roll your eyes - this has been going on for ages, buddy). As with so many cocktail origin stories, the Negroni’s history is muddled by arguments. A different Count Negroni’s family claim that their ancestor General Pascal Olivier de Negroni invented the cocktail while in Senegal in 1857...or possibly in 1914 (there seems to be debate within that family). Regardless, the Negroni exists, thank you miscellaneous Italian counts for your contributions.
I love the drink, but eyeroll hugely at the hype. Currently the count for #negroni on Instagram has half a million posts, most of them sun-drenched and elegantly aspirational. Negroni cufflinks and enamel pins are available for purchase. Campari sponsors ‘Negroni Week’ each year. It’s one of those cocktails that’s niche enough that it’s not really mainstream, but is widespread enough that people list it as a personality marker, sort of like being a Book Person or a Jazz Person. In my experience, a Negroni Person is usually an Old Fashioned Person: Summer Edition. A little loud, a little snobby, most likely wearing shorts. Am I going to get pushback for this? Probably, yes.
Posturing aside, I would argue it’s the ideal aperitif, full of bittersharp angles. A jangly drink that comes together in harmony to spark the palate (I am fully aware of how obnoxious that sounds). Memorize its 3 (yes, only THREE, you’re welcome) ingredients and enjoy.
Ingredients & Method:
1 part gin
1 part Campari
1 part vermouth rosso (the red one, you guys)
Shake all ingredients together and pour in a rocks glass. Add an ice cube or two, then garnish with an orange twist.
~ InFiNiTe VaRiEtiEs ~
With all the popularity of geneaology these days, I would be remiss in leaving out the Negroni family tree (of sorts? It’s more like one of those family reunions where everyone is vaguely related by marriage and nobody fully understands what a second cousin is, but “Uncle” Bob keeps getting invited because he makes good barbecue).
Americano: the granddaddy of the Negroni family; equal parts Campari & red vermouth with a splash of soda water
Boulevardier: the Kentucky cousin; swap out the gin for bourbon
Negroni Sbagliato: your sibling who went to Rome for a year abroad in college and won’t stop talking about it 10 years later; swap the gin for Prosecco
Dutch Negroni: the grandma who gives great hugs, has memorized all the family recipes, definitely takes nips of sherry while cooking; replace the gin with Jenever
White Negroni: your favorite Wine Aunt; keep the gin, but replace vermouth & Campari with Lillet blanc and Suze
Old Pal: that grizzled old guy who just sits on the porch and doesn’t talk to anybody; dry vermouth instead of sweet red, rye whiskey instead of gin
Agavoni: the cousin who constantly makes terrible decisions but has some good stories; use tequila instead of gin