Mezcal Negroni garnished with orange peel

Mezcal Negroni

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 29, 2022 
This Mezcal Negroni is a smoky riff on the traditional recipe. A bold combination of smoky Mezcal, bitter Campari, and Sweet Vermouth.

I'm a huge fan of the classic Negroni cocktail. The three-ingredient cocktail made of Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari is easy to make and shows a great balance of sweet, bitter, and booze. The drink was invented in Italy is supposedly a boozy twist to the Americano cocktail. Apparently, Count Camilo Negroni ordered this at his favorite bar in Florence. Just like that, a legendary cocktail was born.

But the smoky riff based on Mezcal is also high on my list of favorite recipes. The smoky agave spirit works amazingly well with Campari. In combination with Vermouth, you'll get an amazingly complex drink. Follow our recipe to impress your friends and make a perfect Mezcal Negroni.

Ingredients of a Mezcal Negroni

The ingredient list for our Mezcal Negroni recipe is short and sweet. You'll need a quality Mezcal, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. And you also need some fresh ice for chilling the drink while stirring it in a cocktail mixing glass. The garnish is similar to the regular version. Simply use an orange twist to garnish this delicious cocktail.

About Campari

Campari is a prominent representative of the Amaro family with a deep red liqueur and an intense and complex flavor. In general, Amari, the plural of Amaro, are Italian herbal liqueurs that are most famous for their bittersweet herbal taste. The reason for this is that each Amaro has its own secret recipe. Those formulas usually consist of an unknown selection of herbs, fruits, and roots used to infuse a base spirit, leading to their distinctive taste.

And Amaro not only varies in taste and flavor but also in their degree of bitterness. Campari is certainly one of the most bitter Amari. Sweeter options include Amaro Nonino, Cynar, and Aperol.

In a Negroni, Campari is likely the essential ingredient. It's somewhat of the backbone of the recipe and is also the ingredient that's substituted the least. But it's also a vital part of other classic cocktails. Try it in a Jungle Bird, Americano, or a Garibaldi.

What is Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine flavored with a variety of herbs and roots. And after infusing it with those ingredients, liquor is added. That helps to stabilize the wine and let it last longer. But still, always store your Vermouth in the fridge once opened to make sure it maintains its quality. If you don't do that, it won't go bad per se but will lose its delicate flavors. When stored in the fridge, it will last up to three months.

There are two different types of Vermouths available - Dry and Sweet. Dry Vermouth is commonly white and plays a crucial role in classic drinks like the Martini. You can't make a classic Martini or Dirty Martini without it. Noilly Prat is a traditional, quality Vermouth I generally recommend because it is perfect for Martinis.

Sweet Vermouth is deep red, and as the name suggests, it's a lot sweeter than Dry Vermouth. Use it in a Manhattan cocktail, Americano, or various Negroni variations. Martini Rosso is possible the best budget-friendly option. However, if you can afford it, I suggest buying a bottle of Carpano Antica Formula for your Negronis. This Vermouth is a fantastic fit, and even though it's a bit more expensive, it's worth every penny.

The best Mezcal for a Negroni

Mezcal is a spirit made of the agave plant. But unlike Tequila, a Mezcal can be made of various agave plants from many regions. A Tequila is exclusively made of Blue Weber agave and can only be produced in designated regions. Therefore, every Tequila is a Mezcal, but not every Mezcal is a Tequila. If you are interested, you can read more about the differences between the two agave spirits here.

There are plenty of Mezcal types to choose from. But you can basically use any type or brand to make a Mezcal Negroni. And to create a truly excellent drink, you should choose your base spirit wisely. But don't worry, that doesn't mean you need to spend a fortune on a Mezcal. Montelobos Espadin is my regular choice as this spirit is budget-friendly, of great quality, and super versatile. But I also have some other recommendations:

Del Maguey Vida Mezcal bottle

Del Maguey VIDA Mezcal

Probably the most popular choice for mixing drinks. While it may lack a bit of complexity when you sip it neat, it's a beautiful choice for a Mezcal Negroni. It also works great in other drinks like a Mezcal Margarita.

Ilegal Mezcal Joven bottle

Ilegal Mezcal Joven

Ilegal Mezcal produces some seriously delicious Mezcals. And their Joven expression is perfect for mixing it in a Mezcal Negroni or other Mezcal cocktails. It's a well-rounded spirit with plenty of fruity notes and a slightly smoky touch. If overly smoky Mezcals are not your kind of thing, give this one a try.

Gracias a Dios Mezcal Espadin

Gracias a Dios Espadin Mezcal

For lovers of smoke, Gracias a Dios Espadin Mezcal is the perfect choice. And this spirit is not only full smoky, it is also full of flavor. Notes of apple, pear, and cinnamon are most prominent next to the smoke.

How to serve a Mezcal Negroni?

Like in the traditional recipe, a Mezcal Negroni is made using equal parts of each ingredient. One ounce Campari, Carpano Antica Formula, and Mezcal is all it requires.

Put all three ingredients into a mixing glass with lots of ice and stir until the drink is chilled. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Then garnish it with an orange peel. Now your Mezcal Negroni is ready to be served. Alternatively, you can garnish your drink with a thin slice of orange.

In Italy, a Negroni is often consumed as an aperitivo. A pre-dinner drink that's supposed to prepare for your food. In other terms: its job is to make you even more hungry so you can eat more. But a Mezcal Negroni is better served as an after-work drink.

Other Negroni variations

The Negroni is a fabulous classic cocktail. And because it is so popular, as time went by, many variations of this drink popped up. Some versions merely replace the base liquor, while others are completely different cocktails. The most famous ones are the White Negroni and the Negroni Sbagliato.

And there are more drinks closely tied to the Negroni. One of them is the Boulevardier. A classic cocktail with a very similar recipe is the traditional Negroni. Instead of Gin, the base of this drink is Whiskey - typically Bourbon or Rye.

And last but not least, there's the Americano cocktail. The cocktail from which the Negroni evolved. And just like its successor, the Americano is an excellent aperitivo cocktail. Due to its lower ABV, it's significantly lighter and a bit more refreshing, as well.

What makes this recipe special?

The Mezcal Negroni is full of flavor and very complex in taste. Replacing Gin with Mezcal adds even more depth of flavor and brings amazing smoky notes to the drink. And also, visually, it's an impressive beverage. Serving it in a rocks glass over a large chunk of ice and garnished with an orange twist, the Mezcal Negroni is one sexy drink.

Please, rate this recipe below.

Mezcal Negroni garnished with orange peel

Mezcal Negroni

A bold and smoky riff on the traditional Negroni recipe.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Campari, mezcal, vermouth
Servings: 1
Calories: 187kcal
Cost: $2.90

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Mezcal
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 Orange zest (for garnish)

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with lots of ice.
  • Stir until the drink is chilled.
  • Then strain it into a rocks glass over a large ice cube.
  • Squeeze the orange twist in direction of the glass, and then discard it into the drink.

Nutrition

Serving: 3.25oz | Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 0.1g | Sugar: 41g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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