Yesterday we looked at the Americano and noted that it was the ancestor of another, more popular cocktail. This is that cocktail. Few other drinks have the following among bartenders and customers that the Negroni does. It has its own week, unlike other cocktails that have a day if they are lucky. It has been experimented with so often that Gary Reagan was able to write an entire book on the subject, along with the history of the cocktail and plenty of riffs on the original recipe. Which is brilliant, because the cocktail itself started as a evolution of another cocktail.
Count Negroni was an actual Italian count at the beginning of the 20th century. There are some who dispute that this was the man who inspired the libation, but most evidence points to him. He left his home country hastily in the late 19th century over a woman he got pregnant. He spent that time roping cattle, drinking, and learning cards in the Wild West. By most accounts, he did quite well during his stay here before he returned home in 1905. As he was travelling the countryside in 1919 he stopped in at the Caffe Casoni. He asked for the Amricano, but wanted it fortified. To add some extra kick, the bartender ditched the soda water and added gin. The rest is history, as it caught on immediately and spread through the area.
This is such a delightful cocktail, and so experimented with, because it seems like everything works with it. Add bourbon, you have a Boulevardier. Champagne? Enjoy that Negroni Sbagliato. With a wide amount of bitter flavors and liquors to combine, the options are endless. And the recipe is simple to remember.
1 part gin
1 part Campari
1 part sweet vermouth
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: Orange Peel
Pour the liquors over ice in and Old Fashioned glass and stir to combine. Twist the orange peel over the cocktail and add.
Bitter is incredibly refreshing on a warm day. Or as a nightcap. The sweet vermouth and gin add an incredible balance, helping to enhance some of the flavor in the bitters. I recommend a gin with some spice to it. I love Aviation, but the lightness of it was a little lost when combating the bigger Campari and Carpano. And if you don't like gin at all, don't worry. Even a more juniper forward gin is not incredibly assertive. I have witnessed bars that serve it up instead of over ice. Chilling it well will help, but as the ice melts it brings out more of the complexity in the cocktail. It just depends on how you like to drink it. But the best way is either before or after dinner, with friends.