Like many, we remember the first time we drank Negronis in Italy.
Our memory involves drinking ruby-red Negronis in Naples as an aperitivo between pizza sessions back in 2012. Initially surprised by the Italian cocktail’s bitterness, we were believers by the time we gulped down the scarlet liquid until ice and orange peel were the only remaining things in our glasses.
Little did we know that we’d later drink classic Negronis throughout the boot-shaped country from Puglia in the south to Venice in the North. We’ve also imbibed Negronis in European destinations like Turku in Finland.
And why not? This cocktail centenarian is one of the most popular drinks in Italy and the world.
Beyond the Negroni, signature Italian cocktails include the Americano, Aperol Spritz, Bellini and Hugo.
History of the Negroni
The Negroni is having a moment. It’s the subject of books and has its own dedicated week each year. However, the Negroni’s bitter citrusy flavors are both unique and unforgettable.
According to Italian folklore, Florentine bartender Forsco Scarselli invented the Negroni in 1919 when Camilo Negroni requested an Americano with gin instead of club soda. With the addition of an orange twist, a cocktail icon was born.
No flash in the pan, the Negroni’s popularity was limited to Italy for decades. One could say that the Italians had an amore (love) for amari (bitters) before bitter amaro liqueurs like Averna and Fernet became part of the cocktail zeitgeist.
Today, cocktail connoisseurs drink classic Negronis at bars around the world. They also drink Negroni variations like the White Negroni (Negroni Bianco) with Suze and the Broken Negroni (Negroni Sbagliato) with prosecco.
Check online for details related to the next Negroni Week. The dates change every year.
What’s in a Classic Negroni?
The Negroni’s simple recipe includes equal parts of three liquors – gin, vermouth and Campari – plus ice and a twist of orange. These five items complete the succinct Negrroni ingredient list.
We like to use quality liquor when we make Negronis at home and you should do the same. Right now, we have bottles of dry Bombay gin, rosso Martini vermouth and Campari bitters that we bought at a local Lisbon liquor store.
These three bottles cost us €11, €9 and €15 respectively, though the prices may be different where you live.
The same Italian liquor conglomerate, Gruppo Campari, produces red Campari and orange.
Campari – The Negroni’s Essential Ingredient
Using Milan’s Campari is unnegotiable if you want to craft a truly classic Negroni. Invented in the 19th century and previously colored red with bugs, the bitter aperitif, made with a unique combination of herbs and citrus fruit, is an essential Negroni component.
Don’t be fooled by the Italian liquor’s fun red color – Campari is both strong and bitter. Although Campari closely guards its secret recipe, it’s common knowledge that the Campari recipe includes bitter herbs in addition to alcohol, water, aromatic plants and fruit.
Don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian or not a fan of eating bugs. Campari no longer uses insects to achieve its distinctive red color.
How to Make a Negroni at Home
Let us cut to the chase. Crafting a classic Negroni is ridiculously easy with just the following three steps:
- Mix the three liquors in a rocks glass.
- Add ice to the glass. We use jumbo ice cubes since they don’t melt too fast. Plus, they look cool.
- Garnish the Negroni with a freshly peeled orange twist.
You can alternatively prepare a classic Negroni using a shaker.
Could the classic Negroni recipe be any easier? We think not unless you compare it to opening a bottle of Amarone or Barolo wine. Yes, Italy also produces some of the world’s best wines.
Once you follow our Negroni recipe, all that’s left to do is to pair your creation with snacks like olives and nuts. Better yet, add a meat or cheese plate for a full Italian aperitivo experience.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.