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25 ml Gin, 25 ml Sweet Red Vermouth, 25 ml Campari, Orange Peel
Chill rocks glass with ice and soda water.Fill mixing tin to rim with ice and add in all ingredients. Stir with bar spoon for 20 seconds. Taste. Add fresh ice to rocks glass and strain the drink into glass. Zest glass with orange peel, twist and place in drink.
Like fashion, cocktail culture has its ups and downs. We’ve raunchy-named garish tooth-rotters, and we’ve had the uninspired vodka revolution. It was only a matter of time therefore, that bitterness came back on the menu, and with it, the rise in popularity of its ambassador the Negroni.
Taking its name from Count Camillo Negroni, the Negroni was created at the Casoni bar in Florence as a result of the bartender being asked for an Americano with a bit more kick; the Americano being equal parts Campari Bitter and Sweet Vermouth topped with soda. Subbing the soda for Gin (using the same amount as the vermouth and Campari) was a move of frankly genius proportions, for this is one of the most remarkably tasty cocktails known to mankind. Except for most new recruits it isn’t, bitterness is this drink’s forte, and bitter it certainly is.
As with many classic cocktails, the Negroni has attracted plenty of fiddling over the years. The substitution of Campari with Aperol being a common twist, resulting in a far less bitter drink, and hence much more quaffable. The Italians, insistent upon moving the drink back towards its routes, created the Negroni Sbagliato (wrong Negroni) by doing away with the gin and adding in sparkling wine. It’s an improvement on the Americano for sure, but not of the Negroni. That’s the trouble with Italian’s not being able to handle their booze, they go for the light stuff. Of course all manner of other spirits, Amari and bitters can be used in pace of the classic ingredients but there are two that really stand out. Substitute gin for bourbon and you have yourself a Boulevardier; sweeter and more deeply flavoured than its sibling, it’s hard to go back to the gin-based stuff afterwards. To come bang up to date however, you’ll be wanting to do away with the Campari and replace it with Kamm and Sons, a bitter-tasting ginseng spirit made with so many botanicals it’s almost certain to be good for you.
Making one of these is easy-freakin’-peasy. Pop as many ice cubes as you can fit into a rocks glass. Add a measure each of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari then stir, a bit. Not too much or by the time you’ve finished the drink it’ll be all weak and lifeless, and this is supposed to be a big bold libation. Add yourself a fat wedge/slice of orange for a garnish and you’re sorted. Except for the antipasti, for this is a drink that will stimulate the appetite if ever there was one.