I legit can’t believe I’ve never featured a Negroni. I have NO IDEA how this happened—a Negroni is perhaps the easiest cocktail in the world to make—it’s three ingredients and can be built all in one glass. But taste-wise, it’s a really complex drink; even more complex if you use a nice, botanical gin. Perhaps it is for this reason that we’ve gotten this far into our collective relationship and I haven’t told y’all to make this: Negronis are really an acquired taste. Once I made one for my fiancée. She took a sip of it, said nope and handed it back to me. I can’t seem to convince her to give it multiple tries, which she should do because it’s actually perfect and she is wrong.
The reason it put her off right away, though, is because the dominant flavor in a Negroni isn’t the gin, but Campari: an Italian aperitif that, though the recipe’s been a closely guarded secret for more than 150 years so no one can say for certain, tastes very strongly of grapefruit. And grapefruit is pretty fucking bitter. It’s nicely balanced with a sweet vermouth, however, which makes this one of those perfect, not-too-sweet cocktails. Yum.
Negronis also make excellent orders at bars. Most places have the ingredients and it’s easy to explain to an inexperienced bartender how to make it, because it’s an equal-parts drink. Also you look like a classy fucker and most people forget this drink exists, so there’s the chance that whoever you’re with will be v. v. impressed with you. It’s a good go-to because they don’t really vary wildly in the same way that a Manhattan is different every place you go. So no matter what your initial reaction to the Negroni is, I urge you to give it a few more sips—make sure it hits all the parts of your mouth so you can suss out the complexities. You’ll be glad you did!
You will need:
- 1 oz. Gin (I’m using The Botanist)
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- an orange for garnish
- a rocks glass
- mixing glass (optional)
- strainer (optional)
Put a bunch of ice in your glass—or if you prefer, use a big ole fancy ice cube. I’ve been pretty thrilled with my spherical ice. Seriously, I’ve been using it in my water glasses, too, and fancying-up my work day with both those and lime slices. But I digress, ice your glass. If you’re gonna build it all in one glass, no need to prepare a mixing glass. But if you’re going to use a fancy ice of some kind, I actually prefer to build it separately and strain it in. That way it gets nice and cold—stiring something with just one ice cube doesn’t really cut it.
Then simply measure each of the three liquors into the glass and give it a quick stir, being careful not to chip your ice up with your spoon. I like to use a bar spoon and put it in along side the ice. Then I make a nice whirlpool, trying not to clink the spoon against the side of the glass, but instead sliding the spoon quickly along the glass. Practice this, too—getting a good stir on is even more impressive than ordering a Negroni.
If you’re using a mixing glass, strain it into your tumbler. Otherwise, skip right to the part where you garnish it with an orange twist. Hell, you can even garnish it with a grapefruit twist if you’ve got a really excellent-looking pink one around because you are your own boss and you can do what you want. Sit back and enjoy.