By most accounts, the Negroni is a descendent of the “Americano.” The Americano is composed of equal parts Campari and Vermouth, with a dash of soda water. As American tourists flocked to Italy after the turn of the 20th century, the Americano was ostensibly developed as a way of sweetening up the popular, but bitter Italian aperitif – Campari.
Italian Count Camillo Negroni is rumored to have invented the “Negroni” by asking the bartender to strengthen the Americano by adding gin rather than soda water. (By several accounts, Negroni was a tough dude. Count Negroni spent time in America as a rodeo cowboy.) And a legend was born – the Negroni became wildly popular in Europe through American prohibition, shows up repeatedly in popular culture and literature throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and is still a staple of bartenders worldwide.
The original Negroni was equal parts Campari, Vermouth and Gin. And, it was served with an orange twist, over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. As an aspiring cocktail architectural engineer, I find this to be a little problematic.
First, I personally enjoy a very dry cocktail. And (as you may have gathered) I have deep respect and appreciation for the complexity of the gin. Therefore, I double the gin relative to the other components in the Negroni so it doesn’t get overpowered. Second, serving any cocktail over ice will allow the ice to melt into the drink – which drastically alters the construction of the cocktail. Finally (speaking of ice melting in a warming drink), when you lift an old fashioned glass, you warm the glass with your whole hand. In so doing, you warm the drink with your hand. If served over ice, this just further distorts the cocktail.
So here is my Negroni recipe… right, wrong or indifferent:
- 2 oz. Gin
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. sweet Vermouth
- Orange twist
- Combine gin, Campari and vermouth over ice in a cocktail shaker.
- Shake (or stir) for 30 seconds, or until the shaker becomes unbearably cold.
- Rub the flesh of an orange twist around the lip of a cocktail glass.
- Strain the cocktail into the cocktail glass.
- Garnish with the twist.