Have you heard the story about how the Negroni came into existence? There are many variations of this classic cocktail, but we'll share our Negroni recipe in this article.
If you’re starting a bar, getting your bartending license, or interested in how to become a mixologist, then you should know how to make a Negroni. If you're looking to celebrate National Cocktail Day, you should learn it as well. Read on to learn more about the Negroni and some variations over the years.
What Is a Negroni?
The Negroni is an Italian cocktail made with gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari and garnished with an orange peel. Bartenders traditionally stir this mixed drink instead of shaking it. They build it over ice in a rocks or Old Fashioned glass. It’s one of the basic bartending drinks that every bartender should be familiar with.
This cocktail is an aperitif, meaning the Negroni is perfect for stimulating your appetite before a full course meal. It's easy to make and has a refreshingly bitter taste, establishing it as one of the best gin cocktails.
Like many classic cocktails, like the Gin Fizz, there has always been debate over the origins of the Negroni recipe. Many believe it evolved from the Milano-Torino, created at the Caffe Camparino in Milan, Italy, in the 1860s.
The Milano-Torino was popular with American patrons who requested that it include a splash of one of the best soda brands. Hence, the origin of the classic Americano drink.
The Americano gained popularity in Italy and abroad in the late 19th century. Italian Count Camillo Negroni, whose favorite cocktail was the Americano, gets credit for inventing the Negroni in Florence, Italy, in 1919.
Negroni demanded the bartender at Bar Casoni replace soda water with gin to strengthen his Americano. Additionally, bartender Fosco Scarselli added an orange garnish to the drink instead of the Americano's typical lemon garnish to show that it was a different cocktail.
After the initial success of the cocktail, the Negroni family founded Negroni Distillerie in Treviso, Italy. They produced a version of the drink called Antico Negroni 1919, and the Negroni recipe expanded in popularity abroad. It arrived in New York and quickly gained a following in America.
The Negroni Recipe can be found in most bartending books for beginners, meaning it’s one of the most straightforward cocktail drinks to make. Start your process of following a Negroni recipe by choosing the right base ingredients, including the best vermouth and gin brands.
The key to a Negroni is matching the gin with the vermouth. This complements the bold and bitter flavors of Campari. Prepare an orange peel garnish and have an Old Fashioned glass ready for serving.
- 1 oz. (1 part) gin
- 1 oz. (1 part) sweet red vermouth
- 1 oz. (1 part) Campari
- Add the ingredients into a glass over ice and stir.
- Garnish with an orange peel and serve in an Old Fashioned glass.
Since its inception just over a century ago, the Negroni has been the subject of seemingly endless experimentation by bartenders and mixologists. It’s similar to the Martini recipe in that regard. Many of the oldest bars in America were places where people experimented with and developed cocktail recipes.
Its core ingredients of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari have inspired many behind the bar to get creative with the concoction. But like the Gin and Tonic recipe, many people have remained loyal to the original Negroni recipe. However, it doesn’t stop people from changing up their drink orders from time to time.
You can substitute bourbon for gin to create the Boulevardier, one of the essential drinks to know as a bartender. Here are a few additional variations on the classic Negroni recipe:
1. White Negroni Recipe
British bartender Wayne Collins invented the White Negroni in 2001. This occurred at Vin Expo, a beverage trade show in Bordeaux, France.
Collins intended to create a Negroni variation that included gin but omitted the sweet vermouth and Campari. He replaced them with two French ingredients: Suze, a bittersweet gentian liqueur, and Lillet Blanc, a wine-based aperitif. Suze replaces the Campari in the role of adding bitterness, while Lillet Blanc adds the sweetness of the vermouth.
People loved the cocktail, bartenders noticed, and it eventually arrived on bar and restaurant menus worldwide. Pegu Club in New York City added it to its bar menu, and the White Negroni gained a loyal following of bar patrons there. More notable bars, such as the speakeasy PDT and bar Dante, added the cocktail to their bar menus.
The original White Negroni recipe called for equal parts gin, Suze, and Lillet Blanc. Nowadays, the standard pour for the recipe calls for more gin and a reduction in Suze. It results in a cocktail that's bitter but also light and floral with a note of sweetness. It’s similar to the infusion produced by bitters alcohol.
2. Black Negroni Recipe
There have been numerous Negroni variations, but the Black Negroni may be the most dramatic take on the classic Negroni recipe. Mixologists have taken pride in creating dark cocktails for many years, but the recent introduction of nearly-noir liqueurs has boosted the Black Negroni.
Distillers make darker spirits with natural ingredients like black carrot root, cocoa nibs, and butterfly pea powder. Scapegrace Black Gin, imported from New Zealand, is the usual gin used for this recipe.
Scapegrace Black Gin contains butterfly pea powder with a deep blackberry hue. It changes to a light lavender shade with the addition of citrus or tonic water.
3. Frozen Negroni Recipe
The Frozen Negroni is one of the most refreshing summer cocktails on a hot day. Frosé and Frozen Margaritas work well in the summer, but the bitter taste of a Frozen Negroni makes it a refreshing drink.
It's also the perfect cocktail for experimenting with different gins and vermouths to enhance the flavors. Keep this recipe handy for serving patrons in your bar's outdoor seating area or hosting friends on your home’s outdoor patio during the summer. It may become one of your home bar essentials for social gatherings.
4. Grapefruit Negroni Recipe
The Grapefruit Negroni recipe emphasizes the characteristics of the Campari in a subtle way. Stick with the Negroni recipe standards of gin and Campari, but substitute grapefruit honey syrup for the vermouth.
The result is a delicious twist on the classic Negroni recipe with lower alcohol content. It's perfect if you want a Negroni variation without a high ABV. Similar to the Tom Collins recipe, it has ingredients that are perfect for a refreshing cocktail on a warm summer evening.
Frequently Asked Questions About Negroni
What Does Negroni Taste Like?
The Negroni tastes like herbs and licorice root with sweet and fruity notes. It's a bitter cocktail, but the addition of sweet vermouth and an orange peel garnish balance it out. One of the base liquors is gin, so there's also the taste of juniper with notes of lemon and coriander seed.
Is a Negroni Drink Strong?
The Negroni contains gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, placing it in the medium range of cocktails for ABV (alcohol by volume) content. On average, you can expect the alcohol content of a Negroni to be around 24 percent (48 proof). It doesn't quite pack the alcohol punch of a French 75 recipe.
What Does an Aperol Negroni Taste Like?
An Aperol Negroni is the perfect blend of exciting flavors. The vermouth's sweet and spicy flavor compliments Aperol's bittersweet taste, with the gin adding notes of juniper and lemon. The drink's aftertaste is slightly bitter.
A Classic Negroni for the Modern Drinker
There are seemingly unlimited options for cocktail bar patrons and home bartenders. However, a classic Negroni recipe never goes out of style. It's perfect for happy hour with friends or coworkers or a quiet evening after work.
Whether you're thinking about fall cocktail recipes for Labor Day weekend or making up a list of spring cocktails for Memorial Day weekend, the Negroni recipe provides satisfaction throughout the year. Include the numerous variations on the original recipe, and you have plenty of possibilities for getting creative with ingredients.