June 1-7 marks #NegroniWeek. Originally launched by Campari and Imbibe magazine in 2013, this week is designed to celebrate the classic Negroni while raising money for various charities worldwide under the tagline “a drink for our cause”. More information, and participating locations, can be found on Negroni Week’s website.
But, what is a Negroni? The exact origins are unknown, but general consensus is that in a café in Florence in 1919, Count Camillo Negroni invented it by asking the bartender to strengthen an Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water. This classic cocktail is simple on the surface, but it is not for the faint of heart. Bitter and strong, it is an acquired taste especially if you typically lean towards fruity or sweet cocktails.
1 part Campari
1 part Sweet Vermouth
1 part Gin
Stir over ice
Serve over a single, large ice cube in a rocks glass or strain and serve in a martini glass or coupe
Garnish with an orange rind or slice
Campari is the key ingredient. The secret recipe of fruits and herbs is reminiscent of the bitterness of an orange peel yet there are notes of sweet cherries and spicy cinnamon. Silky and dark red, Campari is often served alone as an apéritif. There are no generic versions produced.
Vermouth is a fortified wine commonly used in Manhattans and Martinis. The sweet vermouth called for here is red and also referred to as Italian vermouth. Martini Rosso is a great option and can be found at most stores. Since the Vermouth is such an important component of a Negroni, I favor upgrading to Carpano’s Antica Formula. This version contains vanilla notes I like but play around and see what you prefer.
Gin is the final ingredient. As you know from my Gin and Tonic post, I love my gins! For a Negroni, I like a classic London-dry style or Navy Strength. I generally find Navy Strength gins to be too strong, but I find they work well here since the higher alcohol content has the power to carry through the Campari. One of my favorite’s is New York Distilling Company’s Perry’s Tot. Their Dorothy Parker is also one of my favorite gins.
Americano ~ Mix 1oz Campari and 1oz Sweet Vermouth. Top with club soda. Serve over ice and garnish with an orange peel.
Boulevardier ~ Swap the Gin in the Negroni for Rye Whiskey. Perfect for fall and winter with the whiskey adding warmth.