When you're looking for a classic cocktail to enjoy before a meal, few are as satisfying as the famous Negroni. It's a sophisticated aperitif featuring equal parts of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth and so easy that anyone can mix it up.
Campari can be an acquired taste that some people will love while others will not. In this cocktail, the sweet vermouth and herbal gin offset some of the Italian spirit's bitterness so it's more palatable. This also makes the Negroni a nice drink to use when training your taste buds to enjoy bitter aperitifs.
While it's typically stirred and served on the rocks, the Negroni can also be shaken and strained into a cocktail glass with a lemon twist. Whether shaken or stirred, it's a great way to start off any meal and sure to impress dinner party guests.
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Gather the ingredients.
Pour the ingredients into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.
Gently squeeze an orange twist or slice over the glass, then add it as a garnish.
- The gin is going to make or break your Negroni. Be sure to choose a high-end gin such as those that you would mix into a martini. Hendrick's, Bombay, and Beefeater are all good choices.
- Choose a sweet vermouth that's of equal quality to the gin and Campari. Carpano Antico, Cocchi, and Dolin are all good choices.
- If you have to dust off the vermouth bottle, it's likely time to replace it. The fortified wine has a shelf life of just three months once the bottle is open.
Adjust the Campari if needed. This is particularly important if you are new to bitter aperitifs because it is not a taste that everyone is accustomed to—especially Americans. We have learned to enjoy sweet drinks and the occasional dry cocktail, but bitters are in an entirely different realm.
- If you pour a full-strength Negroni and find that it's too much for you, try "training your palate" to enjoy the bitter taste. Cut the Campari in half and double up on the gin the next time you mix one up. After a while, your taste buds will become used to the unique taste and you can work back up to the original recipe.
- Not a fan of gin? Pour vodka instead. The drink will be similar to a Campari cocktail, though the vermouth is a nice addition.
The History of the Negroni
It's widely believed that the Negroni was created and named for Count Camillo Negroni in the 1920s. The story goes that the drink was invented when he ordered an Americano with gin at Cafe Casoni in Florence, Italy.
Is it true? There's really no definitive answer. As often happens in the cocktail world, the story has been muddled over the years. Even the question of Count Negroni's existence has been brought into question. This has led to some great debates and a lot of research into the origin of the Negroni.
How Strong Is the Negroni?
The Negroni is made entirely of liquor and, as with all drinks of this sort, it is not a weak drink. It's also not the strongest, though it does give the classic dry martini a run for its money. On average, you can expect a Negroni's alcohol content to be somewhere around 24 percent ABV (48 proof). Take it easy and enjoy one with dinner, then switch to something a bit lighter.
Regan G. The Negroni Drinking to La Dolce Vita, with Recipes & Lore. Penguin Random House. 2015.