The Negroni Cocktail

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When it comes to aperitifs, the Negroni cocktail is one of the most appreciated alcoholic beverages, especially in Europe. The main ingredients used to prepare it are gin, vermouth rosso and bitters. If you are trying to find the origins of this cocktail, you’ll either have a lot of work to do, or you’ll give up quickly because there isn’t much information regarding it. What we know about Negroni is that it has Italian origins, and that most accounts place its creation in 1919 at the Caffé Casoni.

The story goes that count Camillo Negroni, a regular at the café, asked the bartender to add gin to his Americano cocktail instead of soda water, in order to make it stronger. Thus, he invented the Negroni cocktail and the bartender added the finishing touches by completing it with an orange garnish instead of the lemon garnish that defined the Americano. The drink proved to be quite good and it became popular amongst the café’s patrons, so count Negroni decided to found a distillery and sell the beverage ready-made. The drink was called Antico Negroni and was sold in Italy.

The Negroni cocktail was first introduced in America in the 1940s-50s, and one of the first accounts about the drink came from the legendary film director and actor Orson Welles, who praised the drink in correspondence with a newspaper. Today, the recipe for the Negroni has changed a bit, and most bartenders pour the double amount of gin, mainly because this spirit has gotten better in quality and thus easier to appreciate. However, if you are interested in the original recipe, here is what you must do: take an Old Fashioned glass and put ice cubes in it.

In order to follow the International Bartenders Association recipe, you must now pour one part gin – 30 milliliters –, one part sweet or semi-sweet vermouth, and one part bitters, with Campari being the usual choice. The spirits are mixed into the glass, and then a straw and an orange peel are added to complete the look and garnish the drink. This interesting and flavorful drink has maintained its popularity, but in order to survive it had to adapt, so you will find different variations of it in different parts of the world. In Italy, for example, some bars replace the gin with prosecco (sparkling wine) and call the drink “Negroni sbagliato”, meaning “the wrong Negroni”.

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