One Negroni, Four Easy Variations

A Negroni cocktail
Photo by Katrin Björk

Adapted from Cocktail Codex (Ten Speed Press, 2018), by Alex Day, Nick Fauchauld and Dave Kaplan

Three ingredients in equal parts make up the classic recipe of this ruby-hued Italian aperitivo. The original is credited to barman Fosco Scarselli of Caffe Casoni in Florence, between 1917 and 1920.

Many drinks fail when the components aren’t in balance, write Alex Day and Dave Kaplan, two of the authors of Cocktail Codex. The two, also proprietors of Death & Co., with locations in Denver, Los Angeles and New York City, offer a caveat. “However, there is an exception to this rule (as there always is): the Negroni.”

The two credit the interplay of bitter Campari with the clean structure of gin and the richness of vermouth for its lasting appeal. Yet, there’s something about the simplicity of a drink constructed in equal parts that lends itself to easy riffing.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Double up on the gin for a drier drink.
  • Swap out the gin for rum (a Kingston Negroni), Bourbon or rye (a Boulevardier), or Tequila (La Rosita).
  • Switch in dry vermouth for sweet, or top up with soda water or sparkling wine (a Negroni “Royale”).
  • Experiment with the red bitter. Swap part or all of it for other liqueurs that have some sweetness and bold flavor, like Aperol, Suze or smaller measures of orange liqueur or crème de cacao. The latter makes a luscious Chocolate Negroni.

No-Fuss Negroni 

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Orange half-wheel, for garnish

In mixing glass filled with ice, stir all ingredients except garnish. Strain into Old-Fashioned glass over large ice cube. Garnish with orange half-wheel.

Published on December 25, 2020