Equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, stirred, then strained or served over ice and garnished with an orange twist. Bam. That’s the Negroni, a perfect study in balance that dates back to 1919 Florence when Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender at Caffè Giacosa to beef up his Americano by adding gin instead of soda water. The bartender took it upon himself to garnish it with an orange peel instead of the usual lemon to show that it was a different cocktail, and the classic was born.
In 2013, Imbibe Magazine and Campari joined up to launch Negroni Week to celebrate this timeless tipple and raise money for charities around the world. Since then, more than 6,000 venues have raised nearly $900,000. This year, Negroni Week runs from June 5-11, 2017, when bars can sign up to raise money through Negroni sales for the charity of their choice. Order or mix up the traditional recipe, or try one of these nine modern variations.
The Red Planet Negroni
“I was inspired by cyclical nature of our live; how the past comes back to become the future,” muses Robitschek. “Two drinks from the past, a Negroni and English Milk Punch, were combined to create a flavor of the ‘future.’” Clarified milk gives it flavor and mouthfeel, and the drink comes across as both surprising and familiar.
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 ½ oz. Cinzano 1757 Vermouth
- 2 oz. Bulldog Gin
- Clarified milk mixture (see Note)
- 2 Star-shaped orange peels, for garnish
Add the first four ingredients to a cocktail glass, add ice, and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, and garnish with the orange peels.
For the clarified milk mixture:
Heat 3 oz. milk to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and add 1 oz. lemon juice, stirring slowly until the curds and the whey separate. Add 1 ½ oz. rooibos tea syrup (rooibos tea steeped in equal parts water and sugar) and 1 ½ oz. pineapple juice, and stir to combine. Pour all of the ingredients slowly through a superbag or cheesecloth until the mixture becomes clear, and then repeat the filtering process. Store in the refrigerator.
Recipe courtesy of Kristy Padilla, Wisdom
Basically a grown-up version of the cool pop, this frozen take on the Negroni stays refreshing with the addition of pomegranate and orange juices, and gets an earthy sweetness from a turbinado sugar syrup. You can purchase Zipzicle bags online.
- ¾ oz. Bluecoat Gin
- ¾ oz. Cinzano Red Vermouth
- 1 ¼ oz. Campari
- 1 ½ oz. POM Pomegranate Juice
- 1 ½ oz. Orange juice
- ½ oz. Turbinado syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water)
Combine all ingredients, and freeze in Zipzicle bags until firm.
Recipe courtesy of Giancarlo Zerega, Wisdom
Malty, modern local gin from One Eight Distilling in Washington, DC, gives this Negroni variant its kick, while Laird’s lends a subtle apple flavor.
- ½ oz. Ivy City Gin
- ½ oz. Laird’s Applejack
- 1 oz. Dubonnet Blanc
- 1 oz. Campari
Add all to a cocktail glass, add ice, and stir. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
Good Old Days
Recipe courtesy of Natasha David, Nitecap
"I wanted to do something pickled and savory – a fun way to look at the concept of 'something old,’ speaking to the Negroni’s cultured past,” David explains. “The idea is inspirited by a Venetian Spritz – essentially an Aperol Spritz with an olive – so I wanted to combine bitter, sweet and brine."
- ¾ oz. Campari
- 2 oz. Dry rosé wine
- ¾ oz. Cocchi Rosa
- ½ oz. Strawberry shrub (see Note)
- 2 oz. Sparkling wine
- 3 Pickled strawberries, for garnish (see Note)
Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, and garnish with the pickled strawberries.
For the strawberry shrub:
Blend 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups water and 1 pint strawberries in a blender until the berries are emulsified. Strain the mixture, return it to the blend, and add 2 cups sugar. Blend until the sugar has dissolved, then transfer the mixture to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
For the pickled strawberries:
Place 1 pint hulled strawberries in a quart-sized heatproof jar. In a saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups Sherry vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons Kosher salt, and 3 whole star anise, and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the hot mixture over the strawberries, let cool, cover, and refrigerate. Let set at least 24 hours before using.
Tiki Negroni Sno-Cone
Demma created this frozen Negroni to add whimsy to their Negroni Week celebration, Camparti. “A Sno-Cone seemed like the perfect way to just have some fun and a laugh with this bitter cocktail,” he says. “The Negroni is the perfect example of drink that's ideal for the warm weather...it’s bitter, balanced, and, most importantly, easy for anyone to enjoy.”
- 1 oz. Pineapple simple syrup (see Note)
- 1 oz. batched Negroni (equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth)
- 1 cup Crushed ice
- Pineapple slice, orange wheel or mint sprig, for garnish
Fill glass or paper cone with crushed ice, top with Negroni mixture dispensed from a squeeze bottle, then pineapple syrup also dispensed from a squeeze bottle. Serve with a pineapple slice, orange wheel or mint sprig.
For the pineapple syrup:
Heat equal parts pineapple juice and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, strain, and cool. Pour into a squeeze bottle.
This fun play on the Negroni is ready for summer weather and patio drinking. “The juiciness of the grapefruit plays well with the bitter edge from the Campari, and the traditional sweet vermouth is exchanged for a drier, aromatized wine, making it bright, vivacious and refreshing,” Beyries says.
- 1 oz. Nolet’s Silver Gin
- 1 oz. Fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 oz. Cocchi Americano
- Campari float
- Dehydrated orange slice, for garnish
Blend the first three ingredients with ice until smooth. Pour it into a rocks glass, float Campari on top, and garnish with the orange slice.
Mai Tai Unigroni
Recipe courtesy of Josh Campbell, Leyenda
For the flavors and aesthetics of this drink, Campbell was inspired by Starbuck’s recent Instagram sensation, the limited edition Unicorn Frappuccino. “The tropical fruit and slight funk that the Jamaican rum provides compliments the main modifiers coconut, mango, and yogurt,” he says. “The dry red wine and Campari offer some pleasant dissonance, and gives this cocktail length and adds a great depth of flavor.”
- ¾ oz. Campari
- 1 ¼ oz. Appleton Reserve Rum
- ½ oz. Cinzano Bianco Vermouth
- ½ oz. Cinzano 1757 Vermouth
- ½ oz. Lime juice
- 1 oz. Bonita Biz (see Note)
- ¼ oz. Red wine float
- Butterfly pea tea ice (see Note)
- Mint sprig, for garnish
Add first six ingredients to a shaker tin, add ice, and hard shake until chilled. Double strain into a rocks glass over butterfly pea tea/glitter ice, float red wine on top, and garnish with the mint sprig.
For the Bonita Biz:
Though the official recipe is proprietary to Leyenda, it is a combination of mango, coconut, vanilla and yogurt.
For the butterfly pea tea ice cubes:
Brew 1 teaspoon butterfly pea tea flower in 16 oz. water. Freeze in 2-inch ice cube trays.
Red Rooibos Rosewater Negroni
Recipe courtesy of Sarah Egeland, Verdigris
Egeland loves using alternatives to vermouth in her cocktails. “My usual go to is Sherry, but the sea saltiness and caramel quality of the Macvin is so delicate and refreshing,” she says. “I love floral qualities in both wine and cocktails, so rosewater was a natural choice.”
- 2 oz. Portland Dry Gin “33” infused with red rooibos tea (see Note)
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. Château D'Arlay Vin De Liqueur Macvin Blanc
- 1 drop Rosewater
- Orange peel, for garnish
Add the gin, Campari, Macvin and rosewater to a cocktail glass, add ice and stir. Fine strain over a large rock, and garnish with the orange peel, extracting the oil from the glass and around the rim.
For the red rooibos-infused gin:
Add 3 teaspoons loose red rooibos tea to a 750ml bottle of gin. Macerate for 24 hours, then fine strain out solids.
Sweet & Smoky (Just Like Me)
Larson’s wife’s love of Negronis, his penchant for mezcal, and their mutual admiration of Cynar helped create this drink, which strays decidedly far from the original iteration yet still contains equal parts of three ingredients. Flaming the orange peel is mandatory, he says, as it brings all the ingredients together and adds a slight hint of citrus sweetness. “I love Negronis, period. Nothing is better on a hot summer day than a well made, ice cold Negroni,” he declares.
- ¾ oz. Fidencio Mezcal
- ¾ oz. Cynar
- ¾ oz. Byrrh Quinquina
- Flamed orange peel, for garnish
Add the first three ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice, and stir for 30 seconds until well chilled and diluted. Strain into a rocks glass over one large cube, and garnish with the flamed orange peel.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.