The Negroni and Negroni Week

The obvious starter for Negroni Week

Your cocktail calendar entry for: September
18
2 Comments

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Negroni week starts today and the week will be an action-filled episode of The Drunkard’s Almanac.  We’ll start today with the eponymous drink itself before moving through a few modified versions.

Indeed, a good time to be had by all.

So what exactly is Negroni Week?  It’s an annual event launched in 2013 by Imbibe Magazine and Campari as a combination charity fundraiser and celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails.  In 2013 about 120 bars participated.  This has expanded to more than 10,000 venues around the globe.  Collectively they’ve raised over $4 million for charity through a donation for every Negroni or variation ordered during the week.  If you would like to find one in your area you can do so here.

But Negoni Week is not just a case of countless Negonis being poured.  It’s also fertile ground for the vast array of Negroni variations that are out there and the new ones that will doubtless be invented.  So today we’ll cover the Negroni itself and refer you to variations for the remainder of the week.

History of the Negroni

Like almost anything involving history and alcohol there are conflicting stories about the the drink’s origin.  The debate is pretty heated: Negroni is an old family name and both French and Italian pride are at stake.

The most widely accepted story, perhaps because it’s what Campari likes to promote, is that the Negroni is a progeny of the Milano-Torino Cocktail.  The Milano-Torino was invented sometime in the 1860s at the Café Carparino in Milan, which was itself owned by Gaspare Campari.  That drink also spawned a variation called an Americano, which adds just a splash of soda.

The Campari story claims that Count Camillo Negroni was in the Casoni Bar in Florence and asked for a bit more kick in his Americano.  The bartender, Fosco Scarsellli responded by substituting gin for soda and this became the Count’s usual order.  Other customers started asking for one of Count Negroni’s drinks and over time the drink simply became known as the Negroni.

That all sounds pretty good, but Camillo Negroni’s title of Count is suspect and directly refuted by Colonel Hector Andres Negroni.  He believes that General Pascal Oliver Comte de Negroni (of which he is a direct descendant) invented the drink while serving in Africa during the Franco-Prussian War.

At the end of the day, like so many things in the drinking world, the truth is hazy and you can choose whichever story you prefer.  But no matter what you choose for history it’s a damn tasty cocktail made using ordinary pantry items.

Negroni Variations

The Negroni is such a classic cocktail, and so appealing that bartenders have created countless variations.  Negroni variations are really a category of their own in the cocktail world, but they don’t have a strict definition.  To us a Negroni variation is a three-part cocktail consisting of a base spirit and two modifiers.  Those modifiers are usually a vermouth and an amaro or aperitivo, but not always.  All ingredients are either distilled or wine-based, juice is not used.  Proportions are also not usually in the equal-parts ratio of the original recipe; the most common formula is 2:1:1.  Sometimes additional flavors are added through a few dashes of bitters or other agent.

Some variations, like the Boulevardier or Kingston Negroni change out only the gin as the base spirit.  Others, like the White Negroni or the Diamondback, change all the ingredients.  But the Negroni itself is such a classic, enduring drink that they all fall into the category of Negroni Variations.

How to mix a Negroni

As specs for today’s Drink of the Day we present the “classic” recipe with equal parts of each ingredient.  Which, as you already know, comprise gin, sweet vermouth and Campari.  One is free to experiment with the proportions, and some folks, your faithful correspondent included, go to 2:1:1.  There is also a lower ABV version, the Negroni Sbagliato, and a variation using Manischewitz wine called the Manischewitz Negroni.

To make today even easier we will also introduce the technique of building a drink right in the glass.  And to add a little flair, we will invoke the memory of the late Gary “Gaz” Regan, former bartender, book author and San Francisco Chronicle columnist, who was famous for stirring Negronis with his finger.  Cocktail Kingdom in fact sells a stirrer made from a life size cast of his finger.  Go ahead, amuse your friends and confound your enemies.

Negroni

Negroni

Considering that this is a drink typically mixed right in the serving glass, with equal measures of each ingredient it’s really about as simple as can be.  You can vary proportions, typically raising the level of gin relative to vermouth and Campari, but the recipe here is the classic version.
5 from 1 vote

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Pour ingredients over ice in an Old Fashioned Glass
  • Stir with finger or utensil of your choice
  • Garnish with orange peel or slice
  • Drink
  • Rinse and repeat
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2 Comments. Leave new

  • 5 stars
    Will Negroni week include an appearance by the Buñueloni? The suspense is killing me.

    Reply
    • Jeff Anderman
      September 14, 2021

      I’m afraid we don’t have a Bunueloni scheduled for Negroni Week this year, but do promise a good Negroni variation each day for the week. After all, we have to save some content for forward dates! We should perhaps examine this for Bunuel’s birthday on Feb 22.

      Reply

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