The Negroni is back in a big way. Seductively vermillion, bracingly bitter, herbaceously complex—but still refreshing—it's no wonder the historic drink is experiencing a revival. To stir one up at home, follow our tips and recipe below for the perfect Negroni.
With its associations of Italian style and la bella vita, the Negroni has always had a blush of romanticism about it. Like all of the best classic cocktails, it also comes shrouded in lore: supposedly, the cocktail was invented when one Count Camillo Negroni marched into the Caffè Casoni bar in Florence in 1919 and asked for a stronger version of his Americano (a mix of Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda). The story goes that he’d developed a taste for spirits after working as a rodeo cowboy in the American West. And thus, the Negroni was born.
Or was it? Dig past the (probably) apocryphal origin story and suddenly we have a rival Count Negroni (though this one’s called Pascal and hails from France), a cocktail called the Milano-Torino that supposedly preceded even the Americano, and other conflicting written evidence about the Negroni’s origins. We may have to consign the cocktail’s beginnings to the pages of history, then, and focus on enjoying the tipple in the present.
The makings of a perfect Negroni seem relatively straightforward. Famously, the classic recipe calls for 1:1:1 ratios of its three main ingredients (gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth), making this very simple for home bartenders to mix up. But then it starts getting complicated: shaken or stirred? Served up or on the rocks? And what kind of glassware should you use?
To begin, a Negroni—like any short, spirit-based drink without fruit juices to emulsify—simply doesn’t need to be shaken; shaking will actually diminish the drink by changing its mouthfeel and dilution.
Unlike the Martini, say, the Negroni works well served up or on the rocks. If you prefer yours sans rocks, stir your ingredients over ice before straining into a chilled coupette. We, however, tend to enjoy a Negroni on the rocks for its sunny, aperitif quality. Instead of a handful of quickly melting cubes, though, a large block or sphere of ice will chill without over-diluting. A cut-crystal rocks glass looks particularly smashing.
As for the sweet vermouth, there are a number of different options. We find that Carpano Antica is an excellent all-rounder for Negronis, while Cinzano Rosso certainly works in a pinch (as does Martini Rosso). For a Negroni of extra bitterness and complexity, rich and potent Punt e Mes is also a good selection.
As for garnish, orange is the classic choice. Some like to flame their twists, while others drop in whole slices for that extra citrusy boost. We say it depends on your mood—both are a good option.
And finally, back to those ratios: although the classic 1:1:1 is easy to remember and does produce reliably delicious results, we like to slightly nudge up the proportion of gin in our perfect Negroni for a final result that’s beautifully balanced and oh so sippable.
Recipe: The Perfect Negroni
25ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
25ml Sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica, Cinzano Rosso, or Punt e Mes)
In a mixing glass, give all three ingredients a few quick turns over very cold ice until blended. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice block or sphere and garnish with an orange twist or slice.