Follow our classic Negroni recipe and learn how to make the sophisticated Italian sipper with just five ingredients including ice. Unique for its deep red color and acerbic flavor, a Campari Negroni packs a punch with equal parts of bitter Campari, dry gin and sweet vermouth.
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.
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.
Tthe 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.
Classic Negroni Ingredients
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, Martini Rosso sweet vermouth and Campari 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 not negotiable 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.
In terms of strength, Campari’s ABV % ranges from 21 to 28.5% around the world. It’s 25% here in Portugal and 24% in the US.
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
Let us cut to the chase. Crafting a classic Negroni is ridiculously easy with just the following three steps:
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.
Simultaneously bitter and sweet, the Negroni has an herbaceous flavor profile that differentiates it from most other cocktails.
The Negroni was invented in Italy.
Since the Negroni is made with three different liquors, it’s not a weak drink but it’s also not super strong. You’ll want to sip it slowly and savor the Italian cocktail’s unique flavors.
Campari, Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Ice Cubes and Orange Twist (garnish)
You’ll want to use your favorite London dry gin when you craft a Negroni at home.
The Negroni is stirred, not shaken.
We like to serve this cocktail in a lowball glass but you could use any glass for the popular drink.
Campari Negroni Recipe
- 1 1/2 ounces Campari
- 1 1/2 ounces dry gin
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet red vermouth
- orange twist
- ice, one large cube or a large piece chipped off an ice block
- Pour Campari, dry gin and sweet red vermouth into a glass.
- Stir gently.
- Add ice.
- Express the orange peel by twisting it over the glass and rubbing it along the rim. Then drop it into the glass as garnish.
- Serve Negroni in a low ball or rocks glass.
- As an option, shake the Negroni and serve in a coupe or martini glass.
- Use a 1:1:1 ratio if you modify the serving size.
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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.
Original Publication Date: May 23, 2020