For whatever reason, the Negroni has become the bartender’s favorite tipple. From Munich to Manhattan, Sydney to San Francisco, it is the one universal cocktail that we barkeeps tend to drink after work, on our nights off, before dinner, at a BBQ... Heck, whenever the moment calls for something bright, complex, and soothing, there isn’t a mixed drink on the planet that carries the industry cache that this bright red and bitter elixir does.
Maybe it’s the simplicity of its preparation. Maybe it’s that unique mix of spice, bitterness, and sweetness that only comes when gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth get together for a party. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that we like drinking things that most of the population doesn’t. Campari, for one, could most certainly be considered an acquired taste. (Although if they made Campari-flavored toothpaste, I’d use it. I’m a little weird.)
The Negroni originated in Florence, Italy around 1919, just as Prohibition was rearing its ugly head on our shores. As thirsty Americans flocked to Europe, the city’s alfresco cafés and bars were teeming with strange elixirs like the Americano and, eventually, the Negroni. It was named after Count Camillo Negroni, who would stop off at the Caffe Cassoni where bartender Fosco Scarselli would make him a curious mix of gin, Campari, and vermouth. A legend was born.
Now, as is the common practice among today's bartenders, many are putting their own individual spin on this iconic drink. I ventured around town to see what some of our finest are doing to their Negronis. For the cocktail purists among us, turn away now.