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This classically Italian cocktail is so popular that there’s a whole week dedicated to it in September, Negroni Week. And while it’s not a national holiday or anything, it is nonetheless well-celebrated — and rightfully so. The Negroni is a full-on delight, a cocktail so unique and refreshing that anyone who doesn’t like one should raise some level of suspicion. I’m not waiting for the fall but rather mixing one up tonight: Negronis are an excellent for enjoying with warmer weather.
The Negroni is said to have been created in Florence about 100 years ago by one Italian Count Camillo Negroni, and if there’s any cause for distaste over the Negroni, it’s due to its signature ingredient — Campari, a bright red bitter amaro which can be a bit of an acquired taste. Campari solo can be daunting, but when blended with gin and vermouth, things become magical. I consider the Negroni the perfect gateway to the world of amari.
Making a Negroni is brain-numbingly simple, and virtually no one disagrees on its proper construction. Three equal parts — gin, sweet vermouth, Campari. Boom. Just adjust the proportions to fit your glass and your thirst. All the home mixologist is left to tinker with is what brand of gin and vermouth to use in the construction of the drink. The Negroni can handle just about anything, but it benefits from upscale choices here. Choose a gin that’s more floral or citrus-focused than juniper-laden; Tanqueray and Beefeater aren’t the best choice for this cocktail. As for the sweet vermouth, pick something near the top of our list; an ultra-premium bottling with some bitterness to it really elevates the drink, namely because you’re using so much of it.
And don’t forget the garnish. I keep dried orange slices on hand just for this drink, because they work so well in it — but a fresh twist of citrus works great, too.
1 oz gin
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz Campari
Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass and strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice (preferably a large cube). Garnish with an orange peel or dried orange slice.