Life

Celebrate Negroni Week With These Two Iconic Recipes

There are few cocktails I drink more than a Negroni. It’s my go-to. I love the huge botanical and bitter notes that come from the Campari and gin with that sweet vermouth edge. It’s like a flavor-bomb in a glass that helps open up your palate before a big meal, night out, or long brunch. It’s perfect any time, any season, any day.

The classic Negroni is a simple equal-parts-mix of Campari Bitters, sweet vermouth, and gin. Add a little orange and you’re done. You can make them down and dirty — as you get on the streets of Bologna, Milan, Rome — by simply filling a rocks glass with ice, adding the gin, vermouth, and Campari, and then topping it with a slice of orange. Stir with the straw and serve. Done.

And if I’m being 100 percent honest, that’s how I make this cocktail at home.

Today, I’m going to step it up a little bit and mix mine like a fancy cocktail with a cocktail jug and spoon and all that jazz. Is it better? A little. The pre-chilling of the drink with a little ice (which waters it down a touch) does create a little bit smoother experience. Overall, it’s worth the extra effort and it only really takes 15 more seconds to make.

I’m also making the soon-to-be classic White Negroni. In this case, you’re making a gin martini with white Italian Bergamot liqueur in place of the classic red Campari bitters. It’s a little sweeter and lighter but still packs a decent botanical punch.

Okay, let’s get mixing!

Classic Negroni

Zach Johnston

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-oz. gin
  • 1.5-oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1.5-oz. Campari Bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Ice

I’m using Paul Fieg’s Artingsall’s Gin because it’s really a fantastic mixing gin. It’s light but vibrant and really brings a unique (read: not overly juniper-heavy) vibe to any cocktail.

For the vermouth, I have some Antica Formula in my fridge so that’s what I’m using. If you have Martini Rosso on hand, that’s good too.

Lastly, you need some Campari to finish this recipe. There are other red bitters from Italy but none of them quite hit the same vibe as Campari. It’s a legendary bitter for a reason and its taste and feel are unparalleled.

Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Rocks glass
  • Cocktail jug
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Barspoon
  • Jigger
  • Fruit peeler/pairing knife

Method:

  • Pre-chill the rocks glass in the freezer (preferably overnight)
  • Add the gin, vermouth, and Campari to the cocktail jug.
  • Add a large handful of ice (filling the jug about halfway) and stir well but gently for about 20 seconds or until the jug is frosted over and ice-cold to touch.
  • Remove the glass from the freezer.
  • Fill the glass with fresh ice.
  • Strain the cocktail into the glass.
  • Spritz the orange oils from the peel onto the cocktail and rub the peel around the glass and rim. Drop the peel into the cocktail.
  • Serve.

Bottom Line:

Zach Johnston

I missed these. I’ve been drinking a lot of bourbon highballs lately and this reminded me that I don’t have to. The depth of the botanical bitters and gin is like fireworks on my palate with wood, spicy, and sweet flavors popping off from the first sip to last.

The orange oils add that x-factor that really ties this drink together with the woodier spices and florals. It creates a mild holiday vibe that’s also bright and summery. It is, indeed, magic in a glass.

I’ve never had a White Negroni that I’ve really been blown away by. That said, I’ve never drunk them side-by-side before either. So, let’s see what happens!

White Negroni

Zach Johnston

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-oz. gin
  • 0.75-oz. dry vermouth
  • 0.75-oz. Italicus Bergamot Liqueur
  • Lemon peel
  • Ice

We’re using the same gin as above, again, because it’s great. I’m using standard Martini Extra Dry Vermouth. I usually use Noilly Prat but this is what was open in the fridge (always refrigerate your fortified wines).

The real ripple here is the use of Italicus Rosolio di Bergmotto. It’s a bit sweeter and has a floral bitter note that’s made to pair with dry gins and vermouths, making it the perfect candidate for this drink.

What You’ll Need:

  • Coupe, Nick and Nora, or martini glass
  • Cocktail jug
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Barspoon
  • Jigger
  • Fruit peeler/pairing knife
Zach Johnston

Method:

  • Pre-chill the cocktail glass in the freezer (preferably overnight)
  • Add the gin, vermouth, and Italicus to the cocktail jug.
  • Add a large handful of ice (filling the jug about halfway) and stir well but gently for about 20 seconds or until the jug is frosted over and ice-cold to touch.
  • Remove the glass from the freezer.
  • Strain the cocktail into the glass.
  • Spritz the lemon oils from the peel onto the cocktail and rub the peel around the glass and rim. Drop the peel into the cocktail.
  • Serve.

Bottom Line:

Zach Johnston

First, let’s break down the White Negroni. I love a good dry gin martini and this is close. The Italicus add a bit more of a sweet and dry floral bitter edge but kind of get lost in the vermouth and gin, creating a sort of sweeter gin martini.

All of that being said, I didn’t hate this. It’s light, vibrant, and refreshing. The lemon oils go a long way to making this bright and breezy while highlighting the botanicals and booze. This would be a really easy sipper on a hot summer’s day.

Compared to the classic Negroni — there’s no comparison. Maybe my palate is programmed for pleasure after drinking these for over 20 years. Not much is going to change that. But I can’t overstate how bold and flavorful yet delicate and sweet a well-made Negroni can be. It’s just … delicious. That said, I wouldn’t turn down another one of these White Negronis either. It’s Negroni Week, after all!

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