I blogged last week about the Italian love of a good aperitif. Subsequently we had friends over from the UK to visit, both of whom are partial to a good cocktail. Amongst the many drunk, the classic Negroni stood out. It’s quick and easy to make, packs a real punch and is quintessentially Italian. It’s so famous that there is a Negroni festival in Portland, Oregon.
The Negroni as served is a deep ruby-orange. It’s potent, fragrant, herby, sweet and bitter. On paper it sounds disgusting but, mixed properly and with a slice of orange added, it works perfectly. Apparently, it is named in honour of a Count Negroni who, in Florence in 1919, was fed up with his insipid Americano, and asked for gin to be added instead of soda. A stroke of genius. The Negroni is the perfect pre-dinner drink but be sure to have just the one on an empty stomach.
The classic recipe is simplicity itself:
Take a tumbler filled with ice. Add 1/3 each of gin, sweet vermouth and bitters (traditionally Campari). Stir until cooled. Add a quarter of orange (never lemon) and serve. Variations includes a Negroski (with vodka instead of gin), and the Negroni sbagliato or fake Negroni (using prosecco instead of the gin). As the quality of gin has got better, the modern fashion is to add more gin to make a drier drink.
It’s the drinking person’s cocktail. A great Italian contribution to bar culture. Unique and instantly recognisable. Cin Cin!