In the past, you may have heard me rail against made up food holidays. I think they're a little silly, and also a little limiting -- doughnuts only one day of the year? No thank you! Every day is Doughnut Day if you believe in yourself.
But I'll make an exception for Negroni Week because:
A) I love the Negroni a whole lot.
B) It's for a "good cause." ("Which good cause?" ANY. Participating establishments get to pick which charity their money goes to, which is nice, if a bit all over the place.)
There are over three thousand bars and restaurants participating in Negroni Week, but if going out to busy bars ain't yo thang, I've got you covered. (If you are worried about missing out on the altruistic aspects of Negroni Week, feel free to make a donation to whatever charity you wish! Done and done!)
A classic Negroni has only three ingredients: gin, vermouth rosso (red and semi-sweet), and Campari. Combine equal parts of each, stir with ice, and strain either up or on the rocks and garnish with an orange peel.
So simple. So good.
The Classic needs no improvement but it is infinitely riffable and I love a good riffing. Purists may not like all the riffing, but the bartenders in this video said it was okay.
We'll get to some of my favorite variations in a moment, but first let's make the classic.
The Classic Negroni
The beauty of the Negroni is the balance of flavors. Herbaceous gin, bitter, citrusy Campari, and sweet vermouth all work together to create a refreshing, vibrant cocktail that is neither too sweet nor too bitter. In short, it's perfect for an evening of distinguished sipping.
- 1 ounce gin [A note on gin: I prefer a juniper-forward gin for this particular task, such as Tanqueray or Boodle's, but if you're not a fan of juniper, try a more floral approach such as Hendrick's (lots of cucumber and rose) or Nolet's (pictured above, more fruit-forward with hints of peaches, blackberries, and more roses).]
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce vermouth rosso
Combine all ingredients in a stirring glass -- or pint glass, those stirring glasses are pricey -- filled with ice and stir. (Do not shake. Shaking is only needed when one is using ingredients with vastly different densities, such as juices or syrups.) Strain into a lowball over a very large rock or nothing at all. (I prefer mine up.) Garnish with an orange peel.
Now let's talk about those variations.
Make it Bubbly: The Negroni Fizz
By replacing vermouth rosso with a fruity, sparkling rosé, your beverage gets a bit lighter, even easier to drink, and a bit more festive. This also makes a good brunch beverage, though I've been known to drink bourbon at brunch and am therefore maybe not the highest authority on the subject.
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce Campari
- Sparkling rosé to top
Stir the first two ingredient with ice and strain into a flute or coupe glass. Top with rosé and garnish with a lemon peel.
Make it Summery: The Negroni Radler
If the Negroni is my favorite gin cocktail -- and I can't be sure that it is; there are so many good ones -- the Italian Greyhound (gin, Campari, grapefruit juice) is my second favorite. But why dilute your beverage with juice when you can use a grapefruit radler instead?
Steigl Radler may be a bit sweet on it's own, but when paired with gin and Campari, everything mellows out into a very harmonious and refreshing libation. I also have a soft spot for Steigl because it revived me one particularly warm Epcot Food & Wine Festival; that ish is refreshing.
- 1.5 ounces gin
- 1.5 ounces Campari
- Stiegl Radler to top
Stir the first two ingredients with ice and strain into a pilsner glass. Top with your delicious grapefruit radler. Garnish with a grapefruit or lemon wedge.
Make it Smoky: Mezcalgroni
Maybe you're not a gin person. That's fine. I don't understand you, but I still like you and want you to join in the Negroni fun. Luckily, smokey mezcal pairs super well with my favorite vermouth of all time: Punt e Mes. (Surprise! Punt e Mes is a touch more bitter than most vermouth you would use in a Negroni; bitter is better, in my opinion.)
The instructions for this one are exactly the same as those for the classic Negroni. Only you should garnish with a lime peel instead of orange, because obviously.
Those are my favorite variations on the Negroni. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a cocktail bar to hit up because I am all out of my free "PR gin" at home.
Claire is probably drunk tweeting. @clairelizzie