The White Negroni is a natural to include in Negroni Week. For this cocktail Mr. Potato Head is feeling a bit more ambitious. Instead of substituting only the base spirit from the original recipe he’s replacing two ingredients. But to avoid too much cognitive dissonance among readers he’ll return to gin as the base spirit.
The White Negroni shares a lot with the classic drink – an element of bitter, an element of citrus….and booze, of course. It’s a bracing cocktail, well suited to warm weather. If a Negroni is akin to Hulk Hogan stomping a wrestling competitor the White Negroni is more like a jaguar slinking through the Amazon river basin. Sleek, quiet, but with a bite not to be ignored.
Bartender Wayne Collins invented the drink at VinExpo in 2001 as part of a contest sponsored by Plymouth Gin. Plymouth’s global ambassador was in somewhat a Negroni mood at the time and that set the tone for the competition. Collins’ entry won, and that set off its own sequence of events. Simon Ford, the creator of his eponymous Gin, introduced it to Audrey Sanders at the Pegu Club in New York. The Pegu Club was a lighthouse in a world navigating the return of well-made cocktails and the drink took off. It’s now considered a modern classic.
White Negroni Recipe
The recipe is one in which people like to mess around with proportions. You see, the replacement for Campari in this drink is Suze, a French aperitif. Some people think the right place for Suze is down the Sink of Shame™, but used properly it is delicious. Suze is a bright yellow French aperitif that makes use of gentian root in a conspicuous fashion. That root, you see, is notably bitter so those who shy away from such alkaloids may cringe, but it has excellent stimulating effects upon the appetite. But Suze itself manages to be bitter and floral at the same time, making it a good swap-out here for Campari. Some folks like their White Negroni with all the ingredients in equal proportions, but our recipe here today will be, in your correspondent’s view, better balanced and a good set of training wheels for those introducing themselves to bitter spirits.
- 1½ oz Gin
- 1 oz Bianco Vermouth , Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano. Your correspondent, despite sometimes being accused of having a palate like a yak, strongly prefers a bianco vermouth (Dolin Bianco, specifically) for its floral scent. Lillet is too sweet, and with the Suze following the bitter tones of Cocchi Americano that option really isn’t the best unless you need its quinine to battle malaria.
- ¾ oz Suze
- Lemon twist garnish
- Add all ingredients to your trusty mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir to chill.
- Strain over a large cube or up in a Nick & Nora glass. Your choice.
- Cut twist of lemon peel and express over the cocktail.
- Rinse and repeat.