When I sit down at a bar I’m generally ordering one of 2 cocktails. I pick them based mostly on the weather – Not the most scientific approach, but it works for me. When it’s cold or I’ve had a bad day, I’ll order an old-fashioned, when it’s warm and I feel like celebrating life, I’ll order a Negroni. Like I said, it ain’t science but it does the trick.
It’s difficult to say what makes a negroni so special. My love for them is as bittersweet as their taste, I can never only have one and generally end up having one too many. It is, however, an acquired taste and is definitely not for everyone. While doing some research for this post I stumbled upon an article entitled ‘The Negroni is the drink of the summer, but does anyone actually like it?’ – here’s a little excerpt describing his first sip “But then there’s the taste – Christ, the taste. The three ingredients may as well have been swapped out for salt, vinegar and bleach. Swilling one round my mouth reminds me of mouthwash, partly because of the uncomfortable burn and partly because of the immediate urge to spit it out.” Like I said, not for everyone.
The Negroni dates back to 1919, where (legend has it) Count Camillo Negroni (Yep, Mr Negroni) requested that his local Florentine bartender stiffen his favourite cocktail – Now it’s not sure whether he was having ‘one of those days’ or just your run of the mill ‘lady troubles’, but the bartender decided to replace the soda in his Americano with gin. That was one small step for Count Camillio’s cocktail and one giant leap for cocktail history! I’m not sure whether we should be more grateful to the bartender for concocting the Negroni or to Count Camillo for requesting it – Truth be told, in the end, they’re both winners in my books.
This is perhaps one of the simplest drinks you will ever make, equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth stirred together and garnished with an orange rind resulting in a bittersweet love affair that grows more delicious with every sip. The problem with simplicity though is that it can be harder than complex – simplicity leaves nowhere to hide.
Now, after dropping that truth bomb, let us walk you through the tips and tricks to a perfect Negroni.
You want to start by chilling your glass of choice, I like to keep things classic and go with a heavy old-fashioned glass (it’s pretty much a fancy tumbler). At the same time add some ice to your stirring glass and start building up your Negroni one equal part at a time. One shot sweet vermouth, followed by one shot Campari (there really is no substitute) and of course the ingredient that changed it all, one shot of gin. The trick is now to stir your ingredients for long enough to chill them, but not so long that you water down your drink – Practice makes perfect of course. Act fast and strain any water that has melted into your tumbler before pouring that unmistakable deep red liquid slowly over ice.
No Negroni is complete without that citrusy tang that hits you before the drink does so start cutting a sizable orange peel (avoiding the bitter white piece between the skin and the flesh) for the final steps. You want to spread those delicious fragrant oils all over the surface of the drink so pinch the peel at the edges to spread that orangey goodness. Run the rind around the lip of the glass for good measure, give it one final twist and drop it in. Your negroni is served.
Like I said, simple.
This is the perfect pre-dinner cocktail, in fact, traditionally it should really only be had as an aperitif but I wouldn’t blame you for drinking it all day son ALL DAY!!
Okay. Drink responsibly and stay fancy.