Mastering The Art Of The Negroni
Celebrate 100 years of Negroni at Negroni Week, happening at venues around Australia from June 24 to 30.
This year marks 100 years since Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender at a bar in Florence, Italy, to give his favourite cocktail, the Americano, a creative twist by adding a splash of gin rather than soda water. The bartender obliged, swapping lemon rind for a slice of orange, and one of the most popular cocktails on the planet was born. Benvenuto, Negroni!
A century later, the Negroni lives on. And one of the men at the centre of the contemporary Negroni movement is Sydney-born, New York-based mixologist Naren Young. This Campari mixology expert oversees Dante, ranked ninth on the World’s 50 Best Bars list and rated as having one of NYC’s most inventive Negroni programs.
“Did you know that Count Negroni – from whom the drink would get its name – spent some time in his 30s as a cowboy in Wyoming, running cattle drives into Canada?” Young asks The Upsider. “True story.”
Fortunately, there’s no need to book a flight to NYC to learn a thing or two from the Negroni ninja. He’s given us the tips for how anyone can navigate their way around making the perfect Negroni at home.
“[The] good news for everyone is that the Negroni is one of the easiest drinks in the world to make and extremely difficult to screw up. Make sure you use a good London dry gin…Campari, and an Italian sweet vermouth. Make sure you keep your vermouth in the fridge to keep it fresh. You can stir these over ice in equal measures, as is most common, and then strain over fresh ice and you’ll have yourself a delicious drink.”
It really does seem just that simple. But how have Negronis become beloved by so many across the globe?
“They’re easy to make,” says Young. “They have a beautiful, striking color, they’re complex in taste, they have a great story behind [them].”
Bitter and dry, the drink takes its depth from the vermouth, is centred by the bittersweet Campari, and is brought to life through the vitality of the gin. Young, who has 12 modifications of the Negroni on the menu at Dante – including the Unlikely Negroni (coconut and banana liqueurs, pineapple shrub, and Thai chilli tincture) – he just loves making, serving and drinking these time-honoured fusions.
Young says he’s heartened when new converts begin to appreciate the “delicious complexities” of the drink.
“It’s not an easy drink to like at first, but once you do, you’ll be hooked.”
However you like it, Campari is the essential element of any Negroni. The famous Italian liqueur – made from an infusion of herbs, fruit, alcohol, and water – forms the base of a number of classic cocktails.
“The obvious ones belong to what we refer to as the ‘Negroni Family Tree’, drinks like the Old Pal, Boulevardier, Americano, Sbagliato, Cardinale, [and] Rosita.”
How To Make A Classic Negroni At Home:
30mL London Dry Gin
30mL Cinzano Rosso Vermouth
Build in an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir briefly and garnish with an orange twist.
The last word on the Negroni goes to Anthony Bourdain, the late rock-star chef and celebrated food critic who was also known for his penchant for a tipple.
“I think the Negroni is the perfect cocktail because it is three liquors that I don’t particularly like. I don’t like Campari, and I don’t like sweet vermouth, and I don’t particularly love gin. But you put them together with that little bit of orange rind in a perfect setting… It’s just: It sets you up for dinner, in a way it makes you hungry, sands the edges off the afternoon. In an after dinner, it’s settling. It is both aperitif and digestive. It’s a rare drink that can do that.” Saluti!
For more information about events happening near you during Negroni Week 2019 or for more creative Negroni twist recipes, visit the Campari website.
Published 07 June, 2019