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Gin. Vermouth. Campari.

Three very simple ingredients mixed to perfection will create the lift needed before any meal or even just create the perfect sipping drink when the day comes to an end.

Negroni. This most delicious of bitter cocktails, the perfect elixir for a summer afternoon, a winter evening, or anytime in-between. 

Orson Welles sang the cocktail’s praises while he was making the film “Black Magic” in Rome in 1947. “The bitters are excellent for your liver,” he said, “the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.”

What is the true Origin story?

The Negroni is an adaptation of another classic cocktail, the Americano. Mixing Campari, sweet vermouth, soda water then served with a lemon slice, the Americano was originally known as the Milano-Torino, named after the two production towns of Campari from Milan and Vermouth di Torino, from, well, you know. 

Legend holds that 100 years ago Count Negroni asked his bartender at the Cassoni Cafe on the Via de’ Tornabuoni to stiffen his Americano by replacing the soda with gin. This is the legend that has come down through the years, and as the media knows, when legend becomes fact, print the legend!

The actual beginnings of the Negroni is a subject that causes endless debate among enthusiasts. According to popular legend, Count Negroni and his bartender Fosco Scarselli are traditionally credited with the invention in 1911; however, there is a counter-story that the drink was in fact created in Senegal in 1870 by one General Pascal Olivier Comte de Negroni, a French speaking Corsican Cavalry brigadier, based in Senegal. He apparently invented it to celebrate his marriage. The truth will never be agreed upon.

What makes Negroni truly special?

Like its legend when making this drink there is no total agreement on the perfect ratio of its ingredients. While the standard recipe calls for a ratio of 1:1:1 between the gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, many drinkers insist that the gin should outweigh the other ingredients.

This is my held view point as I prefer a double gin to single measures of the other two ingredients. I also hold that the bitters in the Campari are blended to perfection so why add more?

Even the default Negroni recipe in Italy is different. In Italy they do not replace the soda with gin at all, but instead adds it.

Ice is another discussion point. I prefer mine without. I mix mine with ice to chill it and then stir and pour into a fresh glass for drinking. If you prefer ice then try one large oversized ice-cube. It chills the drink but doesn’t water it down so quickly.

Can create multiple versions of this traditional drink! Fairytale Negroni adds cotton candy garnish and a mint. Photo credit Johann Trasch from Unsplash.

All of these contradictory legends and mixtures are part of the delight of this cocktail: its flavours, rich history, and the feelings of contentment it can bring.

There, there. Have a Negroni, it’ll all be alright, don’t worry! Strong in alcohol, sharply bitter in flavour, with a sweetness unexpected. A truly perfect combination to be savoured and enjoyed whenever the occasion demands.

Photo credit Megan Markham from Unsplash

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