The Aperol Negroni is a mild version of its older cousin the Negroni. Their recipes are very similar, each call for one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and one part bitter Italian liqueur. But what makes the Aperol Negroni different, is that instead of using Campari liqueur (like in the classic Negroni) you substitute it with Aperol. This results in a cocktail that’s not as bitter.
Negronis in general are bitter cocktails. They’re considered an apéritif, meaning they’re served before a meal to help stir up an appetite. The bitterness stimulates the palate to crave sugar-based foods (i.e. carbohydrates, etc.). So even though they’re definitely not a party favorite like a Cosmopolitan or the Lemon Drop, they still serve a satisfying purpose.
Even still, the Aperol Negroni is an acquired taste. The gin adds subtle botanicals while the Aperol gives the cocktail a mellowed bitterness. Sweet vermouth ties everything together by adding its own botanical aromas and sweetness, off-setting the Aperol, and complimenting the gin nicely. Regardless, if you’re hesitant about whether you like the Aperol Negroni at first taste, don’t be. Let the cocktail sit for a few minutes, let the flavors and aromas settle. Then take a few more sips and wait. Soon you’ll start to taste the various flavors each ingredient adds and begin to respect the drink for what it is. A quick trip to Italy in a blazon-orange glass.
Like most, the Aperol Negroni is only as good as its ingredients. It’s a spirit-forward cocktail, there are no sweeteners or fruit juices to drown out the flavor of the base spirit. So take full advantage! Select a high-quality gin with a strong botanical profile and sweet vermouth that’s just as good. Finally, grab a bottle of Aperol and a nicely ripened orange. If you’re looking for an interesting addition to the drink, pick-up a bottle of orange bitters as well. A dash or two definitely enhances the experience!
Also, keep in mind that the Aperol Negroni is not a sour cocktail. So it shouldn’t be vigorously mixed in a cocktail shaker. Instead, mix the drink in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass by stirring it. There’s pointless debate about whether shaking gin actually changes the taste of the spirit. Hence, the whole “shaken…not stirred” James Bond thing. But either way, stirring is easier and won’t dilute the drink by smashing a bunch of tiny pieces of ice into the drink. In contrast, sour cocktails like the Margarita or the Whiskey Sour need to be shaken to properly mix the spirit with the sour juices and sweeteners. That’s not the case here.
First, there’s gin. Gin’s quality varies depending on its raw ingredients, water purity, and the distillation process used. For the most part, the juniper berry defines what gin is, without it the spirit’s basically vodka. Although some “New Age” gins are replacing juniper (to an extent) with different flavors. A perfect example of a New Age (aka Modern) gin is Hendrick’s Gin. I highly-recommended the spirit for several reasons. First, Hendrick’s is very well priced for its quality, coming in at less than $40 per bottle and it’s widely available, so it won’t be hard to find. Finally, and most importantly, it tastes great! Hendrick’s Gin has an amazing compilation of flavors, most notably cucumber and rose which create an exceptionally smooth spirit that’s as unique as it is flavorful! So seriously, go buy a bottle and see for yourself!
With that being said, there are certainly many different brands/styles of gin that’ll work well in an Aperol Negroni. However, the most popular style of gin is London Dry Gin: this includes brands like Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, and Tanqueray. These three brands differ slightly in aroma and taste, but they’re all great additions and readily available. But, if you’d like to try a less well-known brand I definitely recommend Sipsmith London Dry Gin. I like Sipsmith because it’s very smooth and well-balanced.
Next, there’s Aperol. Aperol is an Italian bitter liqueur that’s made of many herbs and spices including gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona. But most importantly, the liqueur is much less bitter than its rival Campari. Furthermore, it has about half the alcohol content, so it makes a cocktail that’s not as strong and less bitter than the classic Negroni.
Vermouth is a fortified wine that’s differentiated into two main types: dry and sweet. The wine’s considered an apéritif and is made with many different herbs, spices, roots, berries, flowers, and seeds. So it offers a wide range of distinct aromas and flavors, making it a great addition to cocktails. In fact, vermouth is a modifier in some of the most popular cocktails in the world. But it can also be enjoyed by itself, either on the rocks or neat.
Dry vermouth is a dry and floral white wine used as a modifier in cocktails like the Martini, the Perfect Manhattan, the Bronx, and the Brooklyn.
On the other hand, sweet vermouth’s a beast unto itself. It’s used to make truly classic cocktails like the Classic Manhattan. The wine is red and flavored with unique fruits, vegetables, and spices like rhubarb, cinnamon, orange peel, chamomile, and green coffee. Sweet vermouth’s a very important ingredient in the Aperol Negroni; it helps balance the gin with the bitter Aperol, therefore tying all of the ingredients together nicely in addition to adding its own great flavor.
Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that vermouth’s not a spirit like gin, so it doesn’t keep the same. Once it’s been opened it has a limited shelf-life of 2-4 weeks at room temperature or 2-3 months refrigerated. Point being, don’t let it go to waste and drink up!
For garnish, I enjoy a nice orange wedge even though the Aperol Negroni is traditionally garnished with an orange peel. The wedge adds a little bit of juice to the cocktail giving it some added flavor. It’s a nice touch. Regardless, if you’re a purist and prefer the peel, just use a simple peeler then drop it in.
How to make an Aperol Negroni
An amazing Aperol Negroni cocktail recipe! Learn how to make an Italian Aperol Negroni. You’ll need three ingredients: Aperol, gin, and sweet vermouth…garnish with an orange.
- 1 fl oz Gin
- 1 fl oz Aperol
- 1 fl oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1–2 Dashes Orange Bitters (Optional)
- 1 Orange
- Cubed Ice
- In a cocktail shaker or mixing glass, combine all liquid ingredients with ice and stir for 20-30 seconds.
- In a chilled old fashioned or rocks glass, add fresh ice then strain cocktail into glass.
- Garnish with an orange slice or peel.
A few dashes of orange bitters adds a nice burst of citrus to the Aperol Negroni. It’s definitely optional, but highly recommended!
*Nutrition information is approximate and varies depending upon ingredients used.
- Category: Cocktail
- Serving Size: 1-3
- Calories: 190
Keywords: Aperol Negroni, Gin, Aperol, Sweet Vermouth, Orange
If you enjoyed the Aperol Negroni please rate it and leave a comment below. Sharing is caring!