The Negroni: The Ultimate Italian Cocktail
History of the Drink + New Takes on the Classic Negroni 🥃
Do you know this drink?
If I’d have said the word “negroni” a decade ago, I suspect you might have either not known what it was, or maybe thought it was something inappropriate. This classic Italian cocktail has just recently become all the rage in the food world, mixing gin, bitter Campari, and red vermouth into a deeply BITTERsweet stiff drink.
It’s so popular these days that there are a million twists on the original—including my own—but more about that later.
I was served my first Negroni way back in the winter of 1995, when I was living as an architecture student in Rome. The way I remember the drink, we dropped sugar cubes into a champagne flute and then added the three liquors. Or maybe that was something else, for some reason I can’t recall that night well.
What I can say is that my professor, the famous Astra Zarina, taught me how to mix a few drinks and how to pick the best wine and cognac, all skills that have served my professional life better than any architecture she taught me.
I remember this drink though, because it was the one thing I just couldn’t develop a taste for. That kind of left me feeling like the uncouth bumpkin when all of my far-cooler classmates would sit in the Campo dei Fiori and sip them like they were Anita Ekberg or Audrey Hepburn. This drink was just too bitter for my 21 year-old self. Now, Aperol Spritz, bring that on! It tastes like Kool-Aid!
The funny thing about getting older is that your tastes change so much as you age. Things that never appealed to me, like marzipan, are now my favorites. Dark chocolate was gross when I was a kid, I’d spit it out. But now, I really don’t care for sweets as much as I used to and I loathe milk chocolate. I don’t know why that is, but I think you might feel the same. This same principle applies to drinks. I used to love the neon orange Aperol spritz, which is more on the sweet than bitter side.
But now, I don’t know if it’s age, or that life has been pretty rough these past few years, but I much prefer a strong and bitter drink. I call it the “Depressed Heiress” or perhaps “The Tired Tour Guide.”