Imbibe Magazine has dubbed this week in May as National Negroni Week and I couldn’t be any more excited about this. The Negroni is one of my favorite classics that is also a wonderful blueprint to which so many of us build upon. For those whom may be unfamiliar with this classic Italian libation, history has it that Count Camillo Negroni bartender Fosco Scarselli of Caffè Casoni to make his favorite cocktail, the Americano, a bit stronger. Scarselli replaced the effervescent soda water with gin to counter balance the citrus, bitter Campari, and sweet vermouth, and from there the rest is cocktail history. There are a few challenges to
this story but none have garnered much credible evidence that warrants more than romantic notions and conjecture.
A classic Negroni is usually equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, just like its Americano counter part. The beauty of this recipe and ratio is that there is so much room for reinterpretation and refinement. Many different styles of bitter and sweet Italian amari are substituted, as well as using maybe even french vermouth and other aromitized wines. For me, I wanted to style a more approachable, modern Negroni variant that showcased the wonderful citrus and herbaceous elements of a quality gin. Aperol is one of my favorite go-to Italian bitter/citrus amari as it is very mixable but still shares similar qualities of Campari. Think of it as Campari’s little cousin. I reached for another fantastic Italian amaro, Cynar, to counter balance the citrus and juniper with more deep herbaceous tones. Finally, I utilized an used aromatized wine, Bianco Vermouth, which has an almost plum flavor and deeper flavor than other dry vermouth but not as rich as a sweet vermouth.
Stew Ellington recently featured this recipe in his grand 901 Very Good Cocktails as this is a fairly older creation from about almost two years ago. Despite its age, it is still one of my favorite Negroni-esque cocktail variations that is very refreshing on a warm summer day, or even a drab Northwest fall afternoon. True connoisseurs and devotees may sneer at the idea of anyone “reinterpreting” a Negroni, but what’s progress without a little blasphemy? Cheers.
The Negroni That Wasn’t
1 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Bianco Vermouth
1/2 oz Cynar
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Flamed Orange Peel for Garnish
Combine with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish and enjoy.
Color: Orange and yellow hues with a hint of brown.
Flavor: Juniper, bitter orange and citrus, plum, white grapes, herbs and mild honey
Texture: Easy and light