There have long been tales of an accident happening and something beneficial coming out of it. Sweet 'N' Low was discovered while a Russian scientist was playing with coal tar. Chocolate chip cookies were created because a baker ran out of cocoa powder and substituted chocolate chunks . Brandy was discovered when, instead of reconstituting the wine they had boiled the water out of so they could ship more, they just drank the spirit as is. Blog after blog has been written about the numerous scientific and other discoveries that were made while looking for something else. The fortunate part of every one of those stories is that the person who made the mistake recognized that even though they did not have the result they wanted, they found something that put them in a whole new territory.
In Gary Regan's book The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita with Recipes and Lore, there are no less than two stories of Negroni variations that occurred that way. The first is more of a classic, the Negroni Sbagliato. The lore is that a bartender, while reaching for the gin to make the famed cocktail, grabbed the sparkling wine instead (I want to see how that bar was set up). He poured it into the cocktail, and the sbagliato ("wrong" in Italian) drink was made. The other story has much better documentation, told by Andrew Friedman from Liberty in Seattle. His story is that he was reaching for the rye to make a Boulevardier (another delicious flavor of Negroni), and grabbed Laird's Apple Brandy instead. He added it to the cocktail, finished it, and was surprised by a delicious new flavor. Thus the Mela d'Alba ("Apple of dawn" in Italian, if the internet can be trusted), was created.
Mela d'Alba (via Andrew Friedman from Liberty)
2 oz./ 60 mL Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1 oz./ 30 mL Sweet Vermouth
1 oz./ 30 mL Campari
Glass: Double Old Fashioned
Garnish: Lemon Twist
Stir all the ingredients with ice in a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon twist
I made one substitution, but for good reasons. It is difficult in a control state like Ohio to find certain liquors. Laird's standard applejack is available all over. Hunting down anything else is challenging. I substituted Calvados for the bonded apple brandy. It seemed to work well. The sweet brandy came through, finished by the bitter and citrusy Campari at the end. It was still very well balanced and something I would want to reach for before or after a meal. It is one of the beautiful aspects of the Negroni; even when you make a mistake, it still comes out as a happy surprise.