It's Negroni Week! Time to "Rediscover Red" as Campari - a third of the cocktail's main ingredients - is having drinkers in Shoreditch do (with FREE NEGRONIS - yes, you should be there now).
As for many good classic drinks, the exact origin of the Negroni is debated. But also like many good drinks, the Negroni’s origins link back to somebody rather posh in what we can only envision was a particularly romantic time - like looking at the world through one of those antique Instagram filters.
One theory begins in Florence where Count Camillo Negroni, a wealthy man with a penchant for fine drink, visited a local cafe with a particular thirst for a strong kicking cocktail that day in 1919. In place of the soda water normally placed in the Count’s favourite drink - the Americano - he asked for gin. Yep, cocktail creation can be that simple.
Another theory is that the Negroni was first drank in Paris when ordered by the Corsican General Pascal Olivier de Negroni, also known as the Count of Negroni who led his troops in the Franco-Prussian war, ordered the 1:1:1 mixture.
Since these are the only recorded versions of the potential history of the drink, we’ll have to at least half-believe one or the other. But it seems implausible that so much time passed between the invention of the Americano - the 1st above-mentioned Count’s favourite mixture of Campari, sweet vermouth and sparkling water, - in the 1860s and the replacement of sparkling water for gin, a very popular spirit.
Whatever it’s origins, the Negroni has both stayed the same and evolved over time. Here are several versions of the classic Count-inspired cocktail from bars around the world.
It’s not just a matter of switching out the gin for Scotch. This recipe from the food & drink site Chow also calls for grapefruit bitters and the artichoke liqueur Cynar
Yeah, we know. Two of the main ingredients in the original recipe are Italian. But this version came around when someone mistakenly added Prosecco to the sweet vermouth and Campari mixture. They kept out the gin and a new cocktail was born. But is this a version of a Negroni or an Americano? Or is the Negroni a version of the Americano?
This variation on the classic from Imbibe Magazine is the only that isn’t red. It switches out the vermouth for Green Chartreuse and the Campari for the Sales Aperitif. Although the recipe calls for the American St. George’s Terroir Gin, you could switch it out for one of the up and coming French gins like Citadelle or Pink Pepper from Cognac. As then it would be purely French, perhaps it should be called Le Conte Vert.
Bourbon instead of gin?! Could the sweetness of the bourbon combined with that of the vermouth hide Campari’s bitterness in this cocktail from Saveur Magazine?
With tequila blanco taking the place of gin, this version of the classic maintains its red hue, but the person tasting it knows that it’s made with blue agave.