NEGRONI WEEK

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It’s Negroni Week–sponsored by Imbibe Magazine and, of course, Campari.

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.

The recipe:

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

Tastings Notes:
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.

How to Drink Gin in the Winter

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Photo by Flickr User Raymond Shobe

Some drinkers believe that gin and other clear spirits are best enjoyed during warm, sunny weather and that darker spirits such as aged rums and whiskeys are best drank in the winter. These people are amateurs and should be tarred and feathered, or at the very least ignored.

The following are the Gintenders suggestions and his recommended proportions on classic gin cocktails that are perfect on cold nights…some are better known then others, but all when mixed with the right gin are delicious. And all along with over 70 gin combinations are available at Wisdom.

The Alexander

Created sometime before 1917. Although the Brandy Alexander is a famous variation, the original was certainly based on gin. The Alexander was a prohibition favorite because the other ingredients could mask harsh “bathtub” gin.

1.5 oz gin (recommend a heavy juniper gin, rye based gin or aged gin for this creamy delight)
0.75 oz crème de cacao
0.75 oz of heavy cream
Shake over ice and strain into coup
Garnish: nutmeg

The Bijou

Originated in the 1890s is believed to have been created by Harry Johnson. “Bijou” translates to “jewel” in French; gin represents diamonds, sweet vermouth-rubies, and Green Chartreuse-emeralds. This drink is a bold a high proof concoction, not for the faint of heart. The Gintender recommends dialing back the chartreuse to better balance the drink.

1.5 oz of gin (recommend a bold juniper gin)
.3 oz of Green Chartreuse
.5 oz of Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters
Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a coup glass
Optional garnish: lemon zest

The Martinez

Now believed to be the precursor of the Martini, the first known recipe for this drink appears in “The Modern Bartender” from 1884. It is debated whether it originally called for Oude genever or old tom gin-which are about as far opposite on the gin flavor spectrum as one can get. Some believe that a man named Julio Richelieu created the drink in 1874 for a goldminer in the Californian town of Martinez, the Gintender just believes it is delicious.

1.5 oz of genever Oude (or any style of gin)
1.5 oz of Cinzano Red
Dash of Cointreau
2 dashes angostura bitters
Shake over ice and strain into a coup

White Lady

Created by Harry MacElhone in 1919, and then recreated by Harry in 1923 as proprietor at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. This drink uses eggwhites which makes some squeamish due to salmonella fears…please decide for yourself. Why use raw eggwhites at all in a cocktail? Their impact on taste is negligible, but they do add a rich, silky, foam texture which is impossible to mimic.

1.5 oz gin (recommend a heavy juniper/spicy gin or rye based gin)
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.5 oz of fresh squeezed lemon
1.0 oz egg white
Dry shake all ingredients, then add ice and shake again. Strain into coup glass

Clover Club

One of the best known gin cocktails whose origin is shrouded in mystery, this cocktail may have originated at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia.
Believed to have been around since 1909.

1.5 oz gin (recommend a medium to heavy juniper gin)
1.0 oz dry vermouth
0.25 oz of fresh squeezed lemon
0.25 of grenadine or Guyot crème de cassis (black currant liqueur)
0.5 oz of egg white
Dry shake, then shake over ice and strain into coup