Food & Drink - The Negroni - Cocktail Hour - Apéritif Time
The classic N e g r o n i
With its rich red colour, it's 100-year pedigree and hints of the Mediterranean the Negroni epitomises clubby sophistication ...and it tastes rather good too.
1 part Gin
1 part Campari
1 part sweet red Vermouth
Slice of orange or lemon to garnish
Method : Shake the gin, Campari and vermouth with the ice, and then pour. Squeeze the slice of orange or lemon so the zest releases its fragrant essential oil as well as its juice, and drop the slice into the glass. Allow a couple of ice cubes to tumble into the glass as well - looks attractive and keeps the drink cold - but don't fill the glass with ice: that makes it look a) like a cheap version in a bar that wants to hide its small liquor measures, and b) it will dilute the cocktail as all that ice melts.
As with all cocktails, you should use the best quality liquor you can afford: any notion that ‘they're all going to get mixed up anyway’ is bonkers. Quality comes from quality. So I've got myself tooled up with Tanqueray’s RANGPUR gin, made with rare Rangpur limes; a sweet red vermouth from RISERVA CARLO ALBERTO of Turin - the capital of vermouth; and a bitter Campari from, well, CAMPARI ...in Milan. The wonderful big nobbly lemons are fresh from Menton, a town where lemons and oranges are as important as ermine and diamanté were to Liberace.
Why is the Negroni a classic : It works because the bitterness of the Campari and the sweetness of the vermouth balance each other perfectly, and the gin gives it a good old Marciano punch. Truly, with the Negroni the whole is even greater than the sum of its already great parts. But despite the presence of the gin the senior partner in the cocktail is the Campari, an Italian aperitif amaro. It really stimulates the appetite - to the extent that one of these sumptuous cocktails just isn't enough; mwah!
Origin: In 1919 Count Camillo Negroni (1868-1934) asked Fosco Scarselli, the barman at Caffe Casoni in Florence to strengthen his favorite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the usual soda water. The bartender gave it an orange garnish rather than the typical lemon garnish of the Americano simply to signify that it was a different drink. Count Negroni was quite a character: he had returned from the United States, where he rode the range, busted broncos and was a riverboat gambler while traveling through the Wild West. Oh, and for a time he was a fencing instructor on Madison Avenue, New York - now that is cool, and so appropriate for an Italian Count. He was a tough man, by all accounts, and when American newsman Bob Davis bumped into him during a trip to Italy in 1928, Negroni was wearing full cowboy costume. “You speak English?” asked Davis. “You’re tootin’ I do, hombre!” replied the Count. What a guy.
Next week: Chapter and verse on the cocktail’s cocktail, the über cool Dry Martini. Join us for a drink.
The Dry Martini
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