A couple of weeks ago, WYSBD was a Negroni-inspired beer developed with The Langham’s Artesian bar. This week, I’m going to introduce you to the real deal.
Now, I’m not even going to try and touch the history of this drink. It is so desperately complicated, controversial, esoteric, and at times completely imaginary, that I will leave it to those far more learned than I. That being said, if you do want to learn more about its history, I came across an excellent article by Difford’s Guide that is well worth a read. You can find it here.
The Negroni is like the tougher, better looking, more sophisticated brother of the Americano. The Americano takes equal parts of Campari, sweet vermouth and soda. The Negroni throws caution to the wind and substitutes the soda for gin, like a real man.
The Negroni is probably my number one go-to-drink. It’s great as an aperitif or digestif and goes well with cigars (thanks to its robust flavours). You can drink it in the sun in the afternoon or late at night. It’s just swell.
Despite its complex flavours and mythical reputation, it’s actually desperately easy to make. You just need to take a bit of care over it.
A Word on Ingredients
The Campari is the only real constant here. The gin and vermouth are slightly trickier, and in some cases what you choose will be down to your own personal taste. However, for the sake of being a nice guy, I’m going to make some recommendations.
Only sweet vermouth works here. There would be absolutely nothing wrong with using Martini Rosso, but there are several better choices out there if you really want to get the most out of your Negroni. I personally would recommend Punt e Mes, though you may also like to check out Cocchi’s Vermouth di Torino too.
You’ll want a good gin, obviously, though why you would ever possess anything less is beyond me. Life is too short for bad gin. I would recommend something of an export strength – something over 40% ABV, as you really want that extra edge of a few extra ABV points to help the gin cut through the powerful flavours of Campari and vermouth. I would recommend one of three: Burleigh’s Distillers Cut (big, floral, complex), Tanqueray No.10 (the standard against which I measure all gins) or Beefeater 24 (citrusy with flavours of bergamot). My personal choice: Burleigh’s Distillers Cut.
How to Make It
Get yourself a nice, robust, elegant rocks glass. Maybe something in cut glass. Fill it with ice and water and let it sit while you make your drink.
Now, grab a mixing glass (or just one half of your shaker), and fill that too with ice. Now pour over 35ml (1 ¼ oz) of each gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Now stir. Not for long, just long enough to chill down the ingredients and dilute the mix a little to release all those wonderful botanical flavours.
Discard the water and ice from your now chilled rocks glass, and re-fill with ice. Strain your cocktail mixture into your glass. Nearly there.
Take an orange and don’t you dare slice it. In the process of doing my research I saw on the BBC website some Negroni’s with orange slices in them and was nearly physically ill. Instead, carefully cut a strip of peel (avoiding as much of the white pith as possible) approximately 1cm wide and 10cm long. Take it over to your drink and over the top of the glass, coil it around a straw into a spiral. Aside from making it look pretty, this will serve to spray some of the citrusy oils from the orange onto the drink. Drop your spiral of orange peel on top, and savour your work.