Want to Drink Like an Italian? Order a Negroni
Of all the classic cocktails, the Negroni is perhaps the most polarizing. While those averse to the drink’s famously bitter flavor may shy away, the ones who love it do so wholeheartedly. Indeed, this simple-yet-stiff drink packs a serious punch, while remaining refreshing, satisfying and pleasantly bitter on the palate.
But there’s more to this beloved drink than first meets the eye. Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is a Negroni Cocktail?
Simply put, a Negroni is a red-hued, classic Italian cocktail crafted from equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. It’s often garnished with an orange peel or slice, and classic Italian versions often also include a splash of soda water. The cocktail is generally served as an aperitivo and is stirred, not shaken. It’s best enjoyed over a large ice cube in a rocks glass.
What Does a Negroni Taste Like?
Sweet, bitter and decidedly booze-forward, the Negroni is just the thing to sip if you want to imagine yourself lounging at a streetside cafe in Florence.
Why Is It Called a Negroni?
According to the Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, it’s widely accepted that the cocktail’s roots begin at one Cafè Casoni in Florence sometime between the end of World War I and October of 1920. It was there that Count Camillo Negroni, a Florentine aristocrat, allegedly asked the bartender to amplify the booze in an Americano with a glug of gin. (An Americano, by the way, is another classic cocktail that blends Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda.)
The Negroni then disappeared from the historical record until 1947, when it began popping up in restaurants and bars in post-war Italy. By the 1950s, the drink had taken on a certain air of refinement, with a 1956 Campari advertisement dubbing it the “world connoisseur’s cocktail.”
These days, Negroni lovers have taken to using the recipe as a jumping off point for any number of riffs. Case in point: The floral Wildflower Negroni; the Prosecco-splashed Negroni Sbagliato; the juniper-forward Red Light Negroni; the Mezcal White Negroni and more.
Sometimes, though, all you really need is the classic—and our version more than does the trick.
How to Make a Negroni
Fill a mixing glass with ice.
Add all ingredients (except for garnish) and stir.
Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube.
Garnish with orange half-wheel.
For a Christmas-themed Negroni, simply swap out your London Dry gin for a spiced winter gin. Alternatively, create a spicy simple syrup using star anise, cinnamon, orange zest and other sweet baking spices. (You can also add a dose of the herbal Czech liqueur Becherovka for good measure.)
For a Kingston Negroni, add Caribbean-inspired flare by swapping out gin for Jamaican.
What Liquors Are Used in a Classic Negroni Recipe?
Gin, Campari and sweet vermouth are the traditional liquors used in a classic Negroni recipe, though numerous riffs feature mezcal, rum and other alcohols.
Is a Negroni Sweet or Sour?
On the spectrum of sweet to sour, the Negroni tends toward the sweet side
thanks to the addition of sweet vermouth. But it also gets a measured dose of
bitterness from Campari, while gin lands juniper-forward punch.
Is the Negroni a Strong Drink?
Considering that every one of its three components is a form of alcohol—all
of which may convey a relatively high ABV—it’s safe to say that yes, a Negroni
is a strong drink. Drink responsibly!