All you need to know about the Italian, three-part classic.
This quintessentially Italian aperitivo has become ubiquitous in recent times, and justifiably so. The Negroni is punchy and complex, yet bright and lifted, with a gorgeous colour. And it’s difficult to make badly, thanks to an easy, equal-parts ratio of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari.
Like any self-respecting classic, the Negroni’s origins are contested, and will likely ever remain so. Perhaps the best tale of its creation involves an Italian cowboy with a cheeky request for more booze in his aperitivo. The former cattle farmer – a count, no less – was Camillo Negroni, who returned to his native Florence after his travels in the US.
The beverage in need of more kick was the Americano, an approachable mix of Campari, sweet vermouth and soda. Count Negroni, the story goes, moseyed up to the bar at the Café Casoni somewhere around the year 1919, and instructed bartender Fosco Scarselli to spruce up his drink with some gin.
Scarselli is said to have added a twist of his own, replacing the customary lemon garnish with orange, and a legend was born. A word on the cocktail genealogy here, as the Americano is itself a twist on the Milano-Torino, a deceptively simple combination of Campari and sweet vermouth.
The addition of soda water made it more palatable to American tourists, likely giving the drink its name. The Count Negroni followed, with his hard-drinking ways, but that’s not where the family tree ends, of course.
There’s the recently TikTok-famous Negroni Sbagliato, for example, created in the 1970s through yet another ingredient swap. According to legend, Milan bartender Mirko Stocchetto, making a standard Negroni, accidentally picked up a bottle of prosecco instead of gin. And so the wheel turns.
Nowadays you’ll find bartenders switching any and all of the Negroni’s components – the next enduring variation may already be out there.
VIDEO DEMO by Tristan Stephenson: How to make a Negroni
RECIPE from CO-SPECS by Cas Oh
- 30ml London Dry Gin
- 30ml Campari
- 30ml Sweet vermouth
Stir and strain into rocks glass over ice, or just build the drink directly. Garnish with an orange twist or slice.