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The short, refreshing, elegant Negroni has become one of my go to cocktails recently (despite the fact that my favorite local bar does not have a bartender one who can make it without my help). It’s a drink that combines two of my favorite flavors in the world, the fragrantly wonderful spirit known as gin and the bitterly beautiful concoction known as Campari. Most classy bars and restaurants will know how to throw together a Negroni for you. If you happen to come across a bar that doesn’t, read on so that you can teach your local server a thing or two.

The alluring red dice color of the Negroni.


1 part gin
1 part Negroni
1 part sweet vermouth

Shake and serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

The fact that many bars in my corner of the country haven’t heard of this nearly 100 year old cocktail may be based on the fact that gin itself has unfortunately become pretty unpopular over the last couple of decades. Gin is such a powerfully flavored spirit, that many drinkers over the years have turned to the much more subdued flavor of vodka for their mixed drinks. Even martinis, which were once the main showcase to show off the¬†intricate flavors of a fine gin, are being made with vodka more and more. The sad part about all of this is that with gin being relegated to little more than doctored martinis in some establishments, some of the most timeless cocktails of all time get lost in the fray. One of those is the Negroni.

The Negroni finds its roots in a similar cocktail called the Americano. As the story goes, a patron at a Cafe in Florence in 1919 asked his server to make his normal drink of choice, the Americano, a bit stronger. A typical Americano consists of both Campari and sweet vermouth, topped off with soda water. Replacing the gin with soda water, and a typical lemon peel garnish with an orange peel, made the patron happy. The name of the patron was Count Camillo Negroni and the drink would forever live on as the Negroni. Others claimed to invent the drink over the years, but none of the other stories are nearly as interesting as Camillo’s. One of the earliest mentions of the drink in writing occurred in 1947 when Orson Welles mentioned the drink while reporting in Rome. Welles described the drink by saying that, “the bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.”

The traditional way of preparing a Negroni is equal parts of all three ingredients. Personally I think gin should take center stage and actually prefer 2 parts gin to equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth. For those who don’t have a strange obsession with gin like I do, you might prefer the traditional preparation. Whichever way you portion out your Negroni, it’s hard not to be enamored with the well balanced distribution of flavors. Sweet, bitter, aromatic – I can confidently say that the Negroni is one of the most perfect cocktails ever invented.

  1. Terpsichore
    April 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Pssht. I refuse to believe an obsession with gin is strange! I’d much rather have the piney flavor of gin than the blankness of vodka.

    Do you use a particular sweet vermouth? What’s your go-to gin?

  2. April 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I use Tribuno vermouth. The main reason I stick with the rather cheap Tribuno brand is basically because I can’t taste a big difference between it and other more expensive vermouths that are available locally. I tend to flip flop with my gin of choice. I’ve been on a Tanqueray kick as of late but I’ve also been known to go on Sapphire, Beefeater and Gordon’s binges in the past.

  3. May 13, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Since writing this last year, my vermouth of choice has changed to Noilly Prat.

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