A truly iconic cocktail, the Negroni is bitter and refreshing in equal measure, made with a perfectly balanced blend of gin, vermouth, and Campari. Its origins date back to the early 20th century, and we’ve seen bartenders and cocktail creators experiment with this mix in a lot of different ways over the years, giving rise to a whole host of brilliant beverages. Learn how to make a classic negroni as well as variations on the original below!
The History of the Negroni
Like many cocktails, this Italian mix has something of a cloudy origin story, and there are a few different theories floating around regarding its true creator. One of the best-known tales takes us to Florence, Italy in 1919. There, at the Caffe Casoni, bartender Fosco Scarselli was asked by a French general to mix up an Americano (traditionally made with Campari, vermouth, and club soda) with something stronger to replace the soda.
Scarselli replaced the soda with gin and decorated the glass with a slice of orange, rather than the traditional lemon, and at that moment, a classic of the cocktail scene was born. Some reports, however, say that the French general had actually invented the cocktail several years earlier. Either way, it didn’t take long for the mix to catch on, becoming a favorite of many high-profile celebrities, like famed director Orson Welles.
How to Make It
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- Orange peel garnish
- Add equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth to a mixing glass with ice
- Stir until chilled
- Strain into a glass with one large ice cube
- Express an orange peel and garnish
How to Drink it
The dry and bitter nature of this cocktail makes it a fine apéritif, typically served before dinner to stimulate the appetite. This cocktail is considered an acquired taste, blending distinctive notes of citrus, wine, spices, and herbs.
The type of vermouth you choose can have quite a big impact on the final flavor, as some forms of vermouth tend to be more floral or herbal in taste, while others are dryer and more bitter. Enthusiasts are encouraged to experiment to find the blend that best suits their tastes. It’s a drink that is particularly refreshing on warm days and can be sipped slowly, allowing the drinker to appreciate the depth and complexity of the flavors, one by one.
There are many ways you can adjust the formula of this cocktail to produce some fun and flavorful variations.
Here are a few examples:
- Americano – Made with equal amounts of Campari and vermouth, plus some club soda to finish
- Boulevardier – This cocktail replaces the gin with whiskey, leaving the rest of the recipe untouched
- Old Pal – The Old Pal features rye whiskey in place of the gin and a dry vermouth, as opposed to a sweet one
You can’t truly consider yourself a cocktail connoisseur until you’ve given this classic a try. Spicy, sweet, and bitter all at once, it’s one of the most intricate and exciting drinks around.
What’s a negroni made of?
A classic negroni is made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
Is a negroni better with Aperol or Campari?
The negroni is typically made with Campari, but if you like a lighter and less bitter cocktail, you could substitute in Aperol.
Why is a Negroni so strong?
A negroni is made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, so all three elements are alcoholic beverages. The result is a fairly strong cocktail, although it will slowly dilute with the ice in the glass. The ABV of a negroni is typically around 30%.
Which vermouth do you use for a negroni?
You should use a sweet vermouth in a negroni, but the brand is up to you.
What gin is best for negronis?
As in any cocktail, a higher quality gin will improve the flavor of your negroni. Our favorite gins for negronis include Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin, made specifically for making negronis, or Beefeater, Revivalist, Tanqueray, or other top shelf brands.