Cocktail Hour: The Negroni

Ask any bartender who knows their stuff, “What is your favorite drink?” and there is a good chance it’s a Negroni.

The balance of the bitter Campari, the herbal sweet vermouth, and the boozy gin is so perfect, it’s as if the drink fell to earth from the sky. Despite the myths of a Count Negroni inspiring it in a Milanese bartender, it is a cocktail that drinks like it has been around since the beginning of time, too immaculate in its simplicity to have been invented by a human being.

A lot of the craft cocktail movement is best kept in craft cocktail bars: myriad bitters, obscure gins, innumerable syrups, and abstruse drink recipes are all good fun, but they are of little use to the dive or sports bar, but the Negroni is a drink which, I feel, should become ubiquitous.

It’s easy: usually equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. It’s forgiving; a heavy or light pour of any ingredient will not throw the drink completely out of balance. And it’s ineffably alluring: While your first Negroni sip may leave you more baffled by than betrothed to the drink, there’s very little chance your interest will not be piqued. The bitterness of Campari is a flavor unlike any other, and the sleight of hand the gin and vermouth play upon your palate make the drink impossible to abandon. Nobody should be going the summer without drinking at least a handful of Negronis.

The drink can be tailored to ones liking: extra gin for a boozier drink with more heat, less Campari for the bitter novice, and perhaps less vermouth even for those for whom sweetness is an anathema. Let’s all learn to make Negronis, let’s all stock our bars with Campari, and let’s all learn to live a little more.

Classic Negroni
1 1/4 oz. gin (Watershed works wonderfully)
1 oz. sweet vermouth (preferably Carpano Antica)
1 oz. Campari
Garnish with orange peel or orange slice.