I simply would not want to live in a world without Campari in it. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but to me there is nothing that embodies elegance in a glass quite the way a Negroni does. But I’m a person who loves bitterness in cocktails and Campari’s biting orange flavor definitely fits into that category. Technically speaking, Campari is considered to be an apertivo, or a substance that you drink before a meal to prepare your digestive system for what’s coming. It is also one of the Italian Amari, a group of versatile herbal liqueurs that are currently among the rising stars of the cocktail world. The origin of the Negroni itself dates back to to 1919 when a Count Camillo Negroni was rumoured to be drinking Americanos in a bar in Florence. Americanos are made with sweet vermouth, Campari, and club soda. Desiring a stronger drink, he asked the bartender to replace the club with gin and so the Negroni was born. A happy day for me! The recipe below calls for equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. This is traditional and it’s the one that I use, but many bartenders bump the gin up to 1.5 ounces. Try it both ways (side by side if you can) and see which you prefer. You’ll want a less botanical gin here so go with something like Bluecoat (my favorite and distilled here in Philadelphia), Tanqueray or Beefeater. As far as sweet vermouth goes, I prefer Carpano Antica Formula and Dolin Rouge, but again try each one and you decide. And finally, the Negroni is a drink that is best served very cold. It tends to fall apart as it warms up and so I love it over ice, preferably one large cube.
1 oz Bluecoat gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica or Dolin Rouge
1 orange peel for garnishing
Place all the ingredients except the orange peel in your mixing glass (or shaker tin). Add ice (medium cubes) until the glass (or tin) is 2/3 full. Remember that too much ice will make it hard to stir and too little will not chill the drink enough. Stir with a long handled bar spoon for 15-20 seconds or until very cold. Strain using a Julep strainer and pour into an Old-Fashioned or bucket glass with one large ice cube in it. Express the oils from the orange peel across the top of the drink by squeezing the peel with the skin side out and the white pith side towards you. Drop the peel in the drink. This is a beautiful cocktail! Take a moment to admire it and then get ready for a taste like nothing else!
Check back with me tomorrow for the Thursday Barlogue when I’ll be covering Charlie was a sinner in Philadelphia!