The Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail. The drink’s a popular apéritif: a drink that’s served before a meal to help stimulate an appetite. It’s quite easy to make, you’ll need three basic ingredients: equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth…finish with an orange garnish.
I’ve always been a fan of the Negroni. First, the cocktail’s really easy to make and the recipe is really easy to remember. Second, the color! The drink’s red-yellowish-orange glow reminds me of an amazing sunset somewhere exotic and mysterious. And finally, the Negroni’s versatility. It’s well suited for many different occasions. For instance, you can make one for a really nice formal date just as you would for a casual get together with friends. It doesn’t really matter, either way, it’s a cocktail that will definitely impress. In short, most people have never even had a Negroni, much less made one. So if you stir one up, you’ll look about as sophisticated as they come!
Overview of the Negroni
The Negroni is many things, but boring is not one of them. The cocktail has a very unique taste and an endless array of ways you can change and/or customize it to your liking. It’s an adaptation of the Americano cocktail, replacing the Americano’s club soda with gin, much like how the French 75 replaces the club soda in a Tom Collins with sparkling wine. Popular variations include the Aperol Negroni, the White Negroni, the Boulevardier, the Cardinale, and the Old Pal (a personal favorite).
Nevertheless, this spirit-forward cocktail is strong with a flavor profile that isn’t masked by sugar or fruit juices. Therefore you’ll actually get to taste the spirit. At first sip, you might not be too ecstatic with the drink. It can be an acquired taste, bold and slightly bitter. Regardless, wait a few minutes and let the ice melt a bit. Once your palate gets used to the unexpected, you’ll start to notice the subtle flavors in the vermouth and Campari. Then you’ll respect the cocktail for what it truly is, a one-of-a-kind apéritif.
Gin’s quality varies depending on 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. Yet some “new age” gins are replacing juniper (to an extent) with different flavors to highlight the spirit.
In addition to juniper, other botanicals and spices are added to enhance and diversify gin’s flavor. Furthermore, there are many different brands/styles of gin that’ll work well in a Negroni. The most popular style of gin used in the Negroni 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 remain readily available worldwide.
Campari is an Italian liqueur characterized by its bitter taste. The liqueur’s infused with herbs and fruit making it subtly spicy with only a little bit of sweetness.
Campari is an acquired taste and can be a bit much if you’re not used to it. If that’s the case, reduce the Campari to half and substitute with either more gin or sweet vermouth.
If you don’t like Campari at all, swap it out entirely with Aperol and make an Aperol Negroni. Aperol is an Italian liqueur that’s made by the same company as Campari. The liqueur’s infused with gentian, cinchona, and rhubarb. It’s subtle in comparison to Campari and has a much lower alcohol content.
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. Consequently, it has 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 white wine used as a modifier in cocktails like the Martini, the Perfect Manhattan, the Bronx, and the Brooklyn.
In contrast, sweet vermouth’s a beast unto itself. It’s used to make a few truly classic cocktails including 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 certainly an important ingredient in the Negroni; it helps balance the gin with the bitter Campari, subsequently tying all of the ingredients together nicely.
Note: It’s important to keep in mind that vermouth’s not a spirit like gin. Vermouth doesn’t keep the same. After it’s been opened it has a limited shelf-life of 2-4 weeks at room temperature or 2-3 months refrigerated. So don’t let it go to waste and drink up!
For garnish, I enjoy a nice orange wedge. However, the Negroni is traditionally garnished with an orange peel. The wedge adds a little bit of juice that I think gives the cocktail some added flavor. Regardless, if you’re a purist and prefer the peel, just use a simple peeler then drop it in.
How to Make a Negroni
An amazing Italian Negroni cocktail recipe! Learn how to make a classic Negroni. You’ll need three ingredients: gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth…garnish with an orange slice or peel.
- 1 fl oz Gin
- 1 fl oz Campari
- 1 fl oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1 Orange
- Cubed Ice
- In a mixing glass, combine all liquid ingredients with ice and stir for 20-30 seconds.
- In an old fashioned or rocks glass, add fresh ice then strain cocktail into glass.
- Garnish with an orange slice, twist, or peel.
Liven your Negroni with a dash or two of Orange or Angostura! It’s a very nice touch; try it!
*Nutrition information is approximate and varies depending upon ingredients used.
- Category: Cocktail
- Serving Size: 1-3
- Calories: 180
Keywords: Negroni, Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Orange
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