Today, we’re talking about the Negroni, a classic Italian cocktail made with a combination of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
I gotta warn you: This cocktail isn’t for everyone! It offers a strong, bittersweet flavor that can be an acquired taste. It’s typically served on the rocks or straight up in a chilled rocks glass (also sometimes called an Old-Fashioned glass).
The good news is that this spirit-forward cocktail consists of equal parts of all three simple ingredients, making this classic cocktail incredibly easy to remember when you want to make it at home.
WHAT IS CAMPARI?
Not familiar with Campari? It’s an Italian liqueur that mixes orange and botanical notes– You’ve probably seen its bright orange red color used in many cocktail recipes like the Campari Spritz and the Boulevardier.
If you’ve ever had Aperol, Campari a very similar bitter liqueur but with a slightly less bitter taste. Slightly.
Not a fan of Campari? Try the White Negroni with Lillet Blanc instead!
HISTORY OF THE NEGRONI
The most accepted origin story of this drink is that it was created in 1919 for Count Camillo Negroni when he ordered an Americano cocktail (Campari with sweet vermouth topped with soda water) in a bar in Florence, Italy– but he replaced the club soda element with gin.
(The fact that the count was also an honest-to-goodness cowboy makes this story even more believable.)
Like most other classic cocktails, there are other origin stories, including a French version (see the video for Chris’ retelling), so you never know what’s what in the world of cocktail history. If you have another story, too, share it with us in the comments!
HOW TO MAKE A NEGRONI:
THE NEGRONI: A SIMPLE RECIPE WITH CLASSIC INGREDIENTS
The classic Negroni cocktail is spirit-forward and slightly sweet with herbal notes and a bitter flavor profile — its bold flavors and basic ingredients make it the perfect drink to have before a big meal or for sipping on a warm summer evening.
Note on ingredients: I’ve seen this recipe call for a lemon twist or cocktail cherries instead of a slice of orange, but the bitter orange peel really complements the citrus flavors of the Campari.
Also, don’t fall for the “choice of vermouth” trap– you need sweet vermouth to balance out the decisive flavor profile of this classic version, so don’t use dry vermouth!
Chris offers several Negroni variations following the same formula (base spirit, fortified wine/vermouth, and bitter ingredient) while switching out the base alcohol:
- Oaxacan Negroni: Mezcal, Campari, sweet vermouth
- Boulevardier: Bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth
- Old Pal: Rye whiskey, Campari, dry vermouth
- White Negroni: Gin, Suze (bittersweet liqueur), and Lillet Blanc liqueur
OK, ready to follow in Count Camillo Negroni’s footsteps? Grab all your A Bar Above bar tools, your spirits, and your cocktail glass, and start mixing! Here’s a recipe for making the perfect Negroni.
Here’s how to make the classic Negroni:
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1 Orange Twist For Garnish
- Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth into a mixing glass with ice.
- Add ice, and stir well to chill and dilute.
- Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
- (Optional) Express the oils of an orange peel, and garnish an orange twist.
What, if anything, is an appropriate substitute for Campari? It’s one of those items that I don’t see myself using often at home, so I’m somewhat reluctant to buy it.
Totally understand – it can get really expensive keeping up with all of the ingredients you only need 1/2 oz of! I think Gran Classico is a good option for a Negroni. You can also try Aperol but it’ll be a touch sweeter than the Campari version. Let me know what you try!