We are excited to see this cocktail grow in popularity in the country and are excited to be a part of the Negroni movement!
But first, a little background into this historic tipple. The Negroni or “King of the Aperitivo” is believed to have originated by Count Camillo Negroni of Florence around 1919-20. It is an “aperitivo” cocktail; that is “an opening” drink that refers to the time when Italians meet after work before heading home for dinner. Aperitif liqueurs and cocktails are said to stimulate or excite the appetite, cleanse the palate, and prep the taste buds prior to the feast.
The Negroni actually evolved from the Americano which came into being around 1860. The Americano (‘amer’ indicating bitter, not American) cocktail was first served in Caffè Casoni, and originally called the “Milano-Torino” because of its two alcoholic ingredients: Campari, the bitter liqueur, is from Milano and Cinzano vermouth from Torino. The legend describes Count Negroni as the coolest guy on the block (noble, wealthy, well-traveled, full of anecdotes and stories, and a great tipper) who befriended the bartender of Caffè Casoni. Mr. Fosco Scarselli mixed the count a stronger tipple by adding a London dry gin to the mix and changing the garnish from a lemon peel to an orange slice.
NOTE: An important life lesson: When in doubt add GIN. The rest is drinking history.
Audrey Saunders, the queen of gin and proprietor of The Pegu Club in NYC, has a Negroni philosophy the Gintender completely agrees with: Because of Campari’s potentially overwhelming bitter palate, this drink screams for a heavy juniper, classic dry gin.
1 oz of a heavy juniper classic dry gin (think Beefeater flavor profile)
1 oz of sweet vermouth (the better quality the vermouth, the better the Negroni)
1 oz of Campari
Stir over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with an orange slice or twist.
An appreciation for bitter in food and drink is said to be the pinnacle of a sophisticated palate. Bitter libations are also wonderfully refreshing and ideal on hot summer days. All this aside, the Negroni may be too bitter for some. In that case we recommend bumping up the gin slightly to 1.25 oz and lowering the Campari to 0.75 oz. Another simple tweak is to split the ounce of Campari with another less bitter liqueur. For example, Aperol (Italian bitter blood orange liqueur) is slightly less bitter.
Try this Gintender tweak at Wisdom this week:
N.B.I. (Nicholas on the Beach in Italy)
1.25 oz of barrel-aged Cardinal Gin from North Carolina
1.0 oz of Dolin Rouge Vermouth
0.75 oz of Campari
0.25 oz of Contratto Fernet Liqueur
Stir over ice in a rocks glass
Optional Garnish: Mint sprig
The barrel-aged gin provides an extra depth to the drink and the gin’s peppermint finish blends extremely well with the mint in the Fernet liqueur.