A Negroni Cocktail History Lesson

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Negroni 101 in Florence

Negroni 101 – in its birthplace – Florence, Italy

it’s no secret. i love my cocktails and i’ve been having a love affair with Negronis for some time now. little did i know, i was traveling to its homeland, the location of the creation of my cocktail of choice, this past fall. when i walked into the Atrium Bar at Four Seasons Florence, i had no clue i’d be learning Negroni history and sample tastings that evening. boy was i in for a major treat getting to experience it first hand.

so, there i was in a loungy bar in the beautiful Four Seasons Florence being served by the handsome, Luca, head bartender and winner of the prestigious “Italian Barman of the Year 2012″. not too shabby for a cocktail lover. to top it off, this ultra cool bar also has its own Negroni cart where they mix you whatever Negroni version you prefer right there at your table side. LOVE!

while Luca did his mixing magic he told the story of how Negroni was born in Florence in 1920. at that time, the cocktail ‘Americano’ was very popular. a particular Italian playboy, Count Camillo Negroni, wanted the barman at Cafe Casoni to add gin to the concoction & thus, the drink took on the name Negroni.

now for the fun stuff. ‘Americano’ is 1/2 Campari & 1/2 vermouth. Negroni is 1/3 gin, 1/3 Campari & 1/3 vermouth. Luca didn’t mix-master any old typical Negroni, however, he made 3 versions.

ONE was known as Old Style, a variation of Negroni using the oldest products out there. Beefeater Gin from 1820, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth from 1786 & China Clementi Bitter from 1884, garnished with an orange peel.

TWO was called Valentino and is a combination of Hendricks Gin, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth & Campari, garnished with a cucumber slice and an orange peel.

THREE was Camillo, the namesake of the inventor, made with gin, white port & Prato Vermouth, garnished with an orange slice and caper berries.

A note of thanks to Four Seasons Florence for hosting my Negroni history lesson & tasting as well as other cocktail treats and eats. my taste buds were delighted and if i didn’t ‘Lola Approve’ it i’d say otherwise. the views here are mine, grazie! 

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