Cocktail Recipes/Negroni

Negroni

The Negroni has been the subject of much mixologist fascination over the decades, inspiring countless variations on the true original. Through the course of its century-long stint in bars, the Negroni has been characterized almost as a drink of lore, due to its history, its simplicity, and its elegance.

What Is a Negroni?

The Negroni is an Italian gin cocktail typically made in the glass in which it is served, built over ice much like an old fashioned cocktail. The traditional Negroni is made with just three ingredients in equal parts: gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari.

The Negroni is considered an apéritif, which is a drink that is usually served before a meal as an appetizer. It’s often garnished with a single orange twist, though in Italy, orange slices may be more common.

Negroni Recipe

Serving size: 1 drink

Drink strength: 24% ABV

Prep time: <15 minutes

Equipment needed:

  • Lowball glass or rocks glass
  • Cocktail spoon or small spoon

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet red vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari
  • Orange peel, for garnish
  • Ice blocks or cubes

Directions:

  1. Put the ice in the glass and pour the gin, sweet red vermouth, and campari over the ice.
  2. Stir gently with a cocktail spoon until the drink is chilled, and garnish with a strip of orange peel.

Notes:

  • Campari can make a drink too bitter in the wrong proportions — so measure carefully.
  • Make sure there’s as little pithe on your orange peel as possible.
  • Swirl the ice gently with the spoon against the wall of the glass to avoid watering it down.

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The History of the Negroni

Like the origins of many cocktails, the Negroni’s are only found in bar stories and guesswork. It’s believed that the Negroni was originally created in a small establishment in Florence, Italy in 1919, Caffè Giacosa. The story goes that a French general demanded that his favorite drink, the vermouth and Campari base Americano, be strengthened.

The bartender added a shot of gin instead of the usual soda water, and a sprig of orange peel to signify that it was a different drink, and the Negroni cocktail was born.

Caffè Giacosa is now an Armani boutique, but the Negroni didn’t stop there. Upon the success of the cocktail, the general’s family, the Negronis, started their own distillery where they began bottling a pre-made mixture of the drink known as Antico Negroni 1919.

Famed filmmaker Orson Welles would go on to write to the Coshocton Tribune in 1947 while on set in Rome about the drink:

"The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other."

As with any cocktail’s origin story, the Negroni is mired in controversy over dates and details. Descendants of the Negroni family dispute the date of the drink’s founding. Some claim the Negroni was invented in 1857 in Senegal, and still another claim says the Count invented the drink around 1914. As with any other cocktail’s murky beginnings, it’s impossible to say where the truth really lies.

Negroni Ingredients

The simplicity of the Negroni is that it is made with equal parts of each ingredient — you just need to make sure that you have all three on hand.

Negronis are made with an ounce each of gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari, mixed over ice and garnished with an orange twist.

The Best Gin for a Negroni

Choose a gin that you find palatable on its own, with a distinctive juniper flavor. Juniper berries come from the coniferous trees and shrubs that dot the northwestern United States. Their flavor is much like the plant smells — piney, with a pungent and refreshing taste that has a bit of a peppery afterbite. A London dry gin is usually best, such as Tanqueray or Beefeater.

The Best Vermouth for a Negroni

Sweet vermouth is essential to balancing out the bitter flavors in the gin and Campari. If you opt for a dry gin, you may find that you need to reduce your Campari by a touch to compensate for it. Strictly speaking, this would be a distinct deviation from the traditional Negroni recipe. Keep in mind, unlike your gin, vermouth will expire after a few months if not consumed.

Preparing Your Orange Peel

To prepare your orange peel, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove a strip from the side of an orange, and then trim the pith (that’s the white part) down with a paring knife to avoid adding its bitter aftertaste to your drink.

If you want to dress up your drink a little more, you create what’s known as a twist. Simply slice a thin slice from a whole orange. Then, using a paring knife, cut one end of the peel up through the pulp, but stop when you reach the other side of the peel. Trim the remaining pulp out with the paring knife, and then twist the peel into a curl shape.

Negroni Recipe Variations You Can Try

There are endless ways to modify the original Negroni recipes, and plenty of spinoffs to try for the adventuring home mixologist.

The White Negroni: Perhaps one of the most popular Negroni variations, the White Negroni recipe is in the same 1:1 proportions as the original, with Suze liqueur in place of the Campari, and Lillet Blanc, a French aperitif made from blended wines, botanicals, and fruit. The Lillet Blanc adds a delicate, fruity and herbal flavor, while the Suze liqueur adds a complex bitter vegetal taste, with a somewhat perfumey flavor. A grapefruit twist is sometimes used in place of an orange peel in this White Negroni recipe.

Negroni with bourbon: The bourbon Negroni, sometimes also known as the Boulevardier cocktail, is made with 1 ½ oz of bourbon whiskey in place of the traditional Negroni’s gin, and the same 1 oz amounts of sweet vermouth and Campari.

Negroni with Aperol: If you prefer your Negroni to be a little less on the bitter side, consider whipping up a Negroni with Aperol instead of Campari. Optionally, you can also add a dash or two of orange bitters.

Tequila Negroni: The Tequila Negroni recipe is a simple enough variation on the original. Simply substitute a nice blanco tequila in place of the gin, and a thin orange slice instead of the peel.

Negroni with vodka: Sometimes known as the Negroski, the Negroni with vodka is made with an ounce of premium vodka in place of the gin, and the usual orange twist garnish.

Rum Negroni: There are many variations on the Rum Negroni. In its most simplistic variety, this Negroni recipe is made with dark rum with Campari and sweet vermouth, in the exact proportions as the original Negroni recipe.

How to Make a Negroni Cocktail

The Negroni cocktail is made in the glass in which they are served to reduce the amount of ice melt in the glass. There’s no need to pulverize the ingredients. Instead, use a small cocktail spoon to gently swirl the ingredients with the ice to chill them slightly before drinking.

To get started, you’ll need:

  • Lowball glass or rocks glass
  • Cocktail spoon or small spoon
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet red vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari
  • Orange peel, for garnish
  • Ice blocks or cubes
  1. Place your ice in a single lowball or rocks glass. There is no need to chill the glass ahead of time.
  2. Pour the gin, sweet red vermouth, and campari over the ice.
  3. Stir gently with a cocktail spoon until the drink is chilled, and garnish with a strip of orange peel.
Enjoy promptly.

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If you like this drink, try:

Old fashioned recipe

Manhattan recipe

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