Depending on which origin story you believe, the Negroni Cocktail is either just over or just under 100 years old. Either way, it is a popular classic drink with a definitive recipe and numerous enjoyable variations. Lower in alcohol content than a typical short drink, it is excellent as an aperitif or to wash down your beach-vacation lunch. The one caveat is that you have to like Campari, which is surely not for everyone. But if you’ve never tasted Campari before, this is definitely the drink to try: most bars can make a decent Negroni, and so can you!
Our Preferred Negroni Cocktail Recipe
- 1 oz dry gin
- 1 oz sweet (Italian) vermouth
- 1 oz Campari
- Orange peel for garnish
Add the gin, vermouth, and Campari to a stirring glass or shaker half-full of ice, and stir until mixed and fairly cold. Fill a chilled Old Fashioned glass with fresh ice cubes or ice balls, strain the alcohol in, and add the orange peel as a garnish.
To serve an actual Negroni Cocktail there is not a lot of room for variation: primarily the choice of gin and vermouth brands and the style of ice cubes. If for some reason you serve it straight up, use a conical cocktail glass and stir it considerably longer. A Negroni must be cold. Try it with Punt e Mes, or with one of the now hundreds of craft gins made in the United States and elsewhere. Try crushed ice. And if you decide you really like it, try barrel aging. The Negroni is a great party drink so having a quantity on hand is often useful.
The Negroni is believed to descend from the Americano, not to be confused with the espresso beverage. The Americano uses sparkling water instead of the gin, making it an extremely light cocktail. Other straight substitutions for the gin result in drinks that have a name and fame of their own, including the Bencini (rum), Boulevardier (Bourbon), and Negroni Sbagliato (Prosecco). Returning to gin and substituting dry vermouth for the sweet gives you a Cardinale. Keep the dry vermouth but replace that gin again with whiskey and you have an Old Pal.
Stronger variations that are less dominated by the Campari include the Camparinette (1 ½ oz gin, ¾ oz Campari, ¾ oz sweet vermouth); the Rosita, which comprises 1 ½ oz tequila, 1 oz Campari, ½ oz each of sweet and dry vermouth, a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters, with a lemon twist garnish; and the Capri (2 oz Brandy, 1 oz sweet vermouth, ½ oz Campari, with a cherry garnish). Consumatorium staff sometimes enjoys an even stronger variation we informally call the Perfect Negroni, since it has Perfect Manhattan ratios (2 oz gin, ½ oz sweet vermouth, ½ oz Campari).
People sometimes make similar cocktails using Cynar, Aperol, Amaro, or other bitter liqueurs. These can be tasty and enjoyable but they are not Negroni variations.
Why You Will Like It
Bittersweet, refreshing, and cold, the Negroni is terrific in warm weather and an excellent way to increase your home bartending repertoire with a single new ingredient, Campari.