How can one resist an attempt at what some consider “the world’s most foolproof cocktail”? Equal amounts of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. What’s to flub up? Ice? But precisely because of the Negroni’s simplicity, people are always looking for ways to change it. So before we give you our take on this classic, sit back and enjoy a little Cocktail Classics 101.
The History of the Negroni
Legend has it that the Negroni was created in 1919 Florence for Italian nobleman, Count Camillo Negroni, at Bar Casoni. The bartender’s name who created it was Fosco Scarselli (so, we give all you bartenders out there permission to rename it The Scarselli). The Negroni was modeled after a popular drink in Italy at the time – the Americano, which was made with equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and soda water. It was named such for its popularity amongst the American ex-pats who found themselves loafing about Italy and Europe after the First World War.
Camillo Negroni enjoyed the drink, but wanted something stronger. He and Scarselli’s combined genius came up with the substitution of gin for soda water, and Scarselli also garnished his drink with an orange peel rather than the lemon wedge that garnished the Americano for visual distinction. It was an instant hit and a new classic was born.
Most people agree that the Negroni is an acquired taste, but is particularly suited for the cocktail enthusiast who enjoys a boozy, bitter but extremely balanced drink that’s interesting without being flamboyant. Gin and tonic drinkers out there, listen up, this may be your new go-to. Another benefit to the Negroni? It’s ingredients and structure are so simply done that one can make a flawless yet impressive cocktail at home or be sure that they will receive a quality drink when ordering at an unknown bar.
But for those who find the Negroni a bit too herbal or bitter, we offer up a version created by bartender Adam Pitts of Tazza Kitchen, which uses Belle Isle and Cocchi Barolo Chinato to smooth out any unwanted herbaceousness or just for something a little different. Give this recipe a stir at home, and impress your friends with your cocktail expertise (just don’t tell them how easy it is).
Belle isle negroni
- .5 oz Campari
- 1 oz Cocchi Barolo Chinato
- 1.5 oz Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
- Garnish: Expressed orange
Add all of the ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir briefly and garnish with an orange twist.
Photography by Ash Carr