It is widely accepted that the Negroni recipe was invented in Florence, Italy. At the Casoni Bar, a bartender created this iconic Cocktail when trying to make an Americano Cocktail stronger by replacing the club soda with Gin. To further differentiate it visually, he added an orange twist instead of a lemon peel, the classic Americano garnish.
The result is a classic cocktail that's refreshingly bitter. The essential oils coming from the fresh orange twist add a nice touch to an already well-balanced cocktail. It's so famous that every year it's celebrated for a whole week. But Negroni week is not only about honoring the cocktail. It's also for fundraising. Participating bars all around the world donate a part of their earnings generated by Negroni sales to a good cause.
Why it is called Negroni
You might wonder where the name Negroni has its origin. Especially because it isn't even close to the name of the original Cocktail, the Americano. So here is the - shortened- story behind the name: The Casoni Bar was the favorite bar of Count Camillo Negroni. The Count's favorite drink was the Americano. One day he asked the barkeeper to mix him a more potent version of his favorite drink. That was when the Negroni was born and how it got its name. Due to an Italian Count presumably having had a bad day.
Ingredients of the Negroni cocktail
The traditional Negroni recipe consists of three ingredients: equal parts Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. And when creating new riffs and versions of a Negroni, the first two ingredients are often substituted.
The Gin itself offers thousands of different possibilities nowadays, available in different types. Also, for the Vermouth, you'll find vary between more herbal, bitter, floral, or dry. The Campari part remains untouched in most recipes. A classic orange peel is often used as a garnish, which adds a subtle citrusy touch to your drink.
How Negroni tastes
The classic Negroni cocktail is a bitter-sweet but well-balanced drink. It may look more on the sweet side, but it predominantly tastes quite bitter and herbal, with just enough sweetness to balance it out. There is no syrup or sugar used to mask anything. However, by experimenting, exchanging, and adding ingredients, you can reduce the bitterness. You will find one possibility to make a less bitter twist on a classic Negroni a little further down.
Best Gin for a Negroni
A great Negroni is made with the right selection of Gin. However, finding the best Gin for your Negroni is a story in itself. With so many different types and brands available, finding the best fit for a Negroni can be quite difficult. As this depends on your taste buds, there is no short answer to this question. In case you want to dig a bit deeper into this topic, I created a list of the best Gins for making Negronis. I'm quite confident you'll find your favorite one there.
Campari - The ingredient that gives Negroni its bitter flavor
You might already have guessed the source for the bitter taste of a Negroni is Campari. Campari is a famous Italian alcoholic Liqueur made from herbs, fruits, and spices. And it also gives the Negroni its typical red color. The component that is responsible for the bitterness in Campari is the "Chinotto" fruit. This fruit looks similar to a small orange but has an extremely sour and bitter taste. So if you don't like Campari, Chinotto is to blame.
What is Vermouth?
Vermouth is an aromatized and fortified wine flavored with various botanicals. Those botanicals typically are things like roots, barks, flowers, and seeds. The exact recipes vary from product to product. It comes in two different versions, dry and sweet Vermouth.
In the beginning, it was used for medical purposes like so many other herbal spirits and liqueurs. Later on, it became a famous aperitif, especially in the northern part of Italy. But it's also a popular cocktail ingredient. Sweet Vermouth is essential in a Negroni cocktail and also in the recipe of its predecessor, the Americano.
How to make a Negroni cocktail
The Negroni recipe only consists of only alcoholic ingredients. And as a rule of thumb, cocktails only containing boozy ingredients are stirred. That's also the case for a Negroni, you don't need your cocktail shaker. Instead, grab your mixing glass and a bar spoon.
Fill the glass with ice and add the three ingredients. Stir the cocktail until the drink is well-chilled. Typically that means that you have to stir between 30 and 40 times.
Once it's chilled, strain the Negroni in a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange peel.
Adding cocktail bitters
A question I get asked quite a lot is if it makes sense to add bitters to a Negroni. My answer is: the original recipe works perfectly without adding anything extra. But to enhance flavors or to create a new riff, you certainly can add bitters without the bitterness becoming too overpowering. For a standard Negroni, orange bitters are a good choice - or anything that picks up flavors already existing in the drink, for that matter.
Classic Negroni Recipe
The classic recipe for this delicious aperitif cocktail consists of one part Campari, one part Sweet Vermouth, and one part Gin. The easy measures make this drink a safe bet when you're in a bar. Depending on your taste buds you can also vary the ratios slightly.
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
- Stir until well-chilled.
- Strain over ice into a Rocks or Old Fashioned glass.
Less bitter recipe for a Negroni
As mentioned, I personally love the bitterness of the Negroni. However, many people can't bear the taste. While the classic recipe is not for them, I found a perfect variation that works for nearly everyone - including me. This recipe keeps even measures like the original and solely adds a fourth alcoholic ingredient and a different garnish. Here it is:
Recipe Coconut Negroni
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Antica Formula
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Mahiki Coconut Rum (can be substituted by Malibu or something similar)
Add all four spirits into a mixing glass and use plenty of ice. Then give it a good stir and strain it into a chilled glass with one or two ice cubes. For garnish, add some dried coconut chips on top and enjoy this delicious summer drink! Make sure you have some spare coconut chips on the side to drown in your Negroni. It makes the most delicious snack.