Negroni, the bitter tale of red passion

Summer’s here: time for some great cocktail classics. Thinking of making (or enjoying) one yourself? Great! From last monday, June 1st, to June 7th more than 1.500 bars worldwide are participating in a fundraising by donating 1 euro of every Negroni sold to charity. Negroni Week is definitely the perfect occasion to suprise your guests with a twist on one of the most iconic drinks in cocktail history!

negroni week

History: who put the gin in the Americano?

The Negroni was invented in 1919 in Florence, Italy. The iconic cocktail came about when a Count who had spent time in America, named Camillo Negroni, ordered an Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda) in a local bar called Bar Casoni, but decided to add an extra kick. He asked the bartender to replace the soda with gin, and all of a sudden the beautifully bitter Negroni was born.

The ultimate bartenders’ drink

In fact: the Negroni has never gone out of fashion – serving vermouth has nowadays become a way of distinguishing your bar as a speciality cocktail bar. If we ask Gary (Gaz) Regan (New York), bartender of The Dead Rabbit, cocktailwriter and -author, he argues that Negroni is the ultimate bartender’s drink. Gaz:

‘It’s equal parts of three different ingredients: gin, vermouth rosso and Campari (with a garnish of orange peel). The most creative bartenders also love to put their own spins on the drink.’

gaz regan Gary Regan, courtesy of CLASS Magazine

Negroni experiments

In his recently published book, The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita, Gary (Gaz) Regan himself notes that Negroni is always far better when stirred with the finger. The bar manager of Clyde Common in Portland, on the other hand, ages larges batches of Negroni in oak barrels for around seven weeks before serving them. Another twist is the Negroni Sbagliato in which the gin is switched out for Prosecco. Combined with sweet vermouth and bitter liqueur, this riff on the classic Negroni forms a perfect, lightly sparkling cocktail to awaken your appetite before a meal.

But the most experimental combination with Negroni is definitely the Negroni cheesecake by the Norwegian bartender Monica Berg, currently working in Pollen Street Social (Norway), who actually proves a Negroni can be enjoyed anytime of the day, even as a dessert.

‘The topping from the cake is reserved for the Campari, the Vermouth reduction goes in the crust and last but not least: the gin matches the filling. Flavours go from bitter to sweet, you can even notice sour tones, with playful differences in texture.’

Another twist on the Negroni is made by one of our Foodpairing users Nathan O’Neill, head bartender at the Dandelyan (London). While studying the flavour profile of the classic Negroni, he has got some insights into the botanicals that are being used here. The concept behind this drink is to link the botanicals with the aroma of complementing additional ingredients.

Nathan O’Neill’s signature Negroni with Douglas fir Pine, lemon verbena and thyme

negroni foodpairing nathan

The Douglas Fir Pine provides a floral note that helps developing the flavour of juniper within the gin. Along with the Blackdown Silver Birch Vermouth’s dry woody notes this is reflecting against the Angelica root in the gin, bringing these wood notes of Beefeater’s Garden Edition to the forefront. The drink enjoyed on the palette gives us a beautiful sensation although it clearly needs a touch of sweetness to fully round it out. Attaching Merlot Crème De Mure to the Birch Vermouth allows the flavour to rise through – with the sweetness neutralising some of the bitter flavours contained within the pine. A simple garnish – a slice of blood orange – helps to impart a touch of acidity to the drink, completing the drink’s flavour map.



  • 25ml Beefeater Garden Edition (added botanicals of lemon Verbena + thyme)
  • 25ml Blackdown Silver Birch Vermouth
  • 25ml Douglas Fir Pine Infused Campari
  • 5ml Merlot Crème De Mure
  • 2 dashes of salt solution
  • A slice of blood orange (garnish)


Add all ingredients into a mixing glass and stir over the cubed ice. Strain into a rocks glass (over the ice) and garnish with a slice of blood orange.

Looking back at the rich history of Negroni and the creative reinventing of the drink today, one could state that the cocktail is still evolving. The recipes have grown from simple recipes to complex multi-layered procedures, utilising unusual ingredients, mixology methods and technologies: the future of Negroni is thus looking bright!

Find more negroni variations in this article of the LAweekly

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