The Negroni

Source: Daniela Duncan / Getty

Stanley Tucci is an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated actor that, by most accounts, is said to be an awesome human being. We won’t dispute that, but we will take issue with his crafting of the classic Negroni, which frankly shocked me and other cocktail enthusiasts with his shaken not stirred approach.

Perhaps Tucci was channeling his inner James Bond and the Vesper cocktail that the British super spy fancied shaken instead of stirred in a mixing glass with ice. But in every recipe of the Negroni, even with all of its number of innovative takes, I’ve never seen it shaken in all my years.

Before we get into learning how to make the Negroni, let us first review the history behind the aperitivo, or before-dinner drink from the good folks at Gin Foundry:

The most widely reported version of this drink’s origin is that it was invented at Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy in 1919. Legend tells that Count Camillo Negroni asked his friend, bartender Forsco Scarselli, to strengthen his favourite cocktail – the Americano – by replacing the soda water with gin. Scarselli added an orange garnish, rather than the lemon you’d usually get with an Americano, and the drink took off. Before long, everyone was coming into the bar for a ‘Negroni.’

The ingredients I typically use for my version of the drink follows the original equal parts recipe, in this case, one ounce each of the three components for the cocktail. The gin style is important, as it should be a London dry style. I keep bottles of Beefeater and Boodles on hand, and either would work. The London dry style puts an emphasis on the juniper flavor ahead of the other botanicals used to make gin.

But just as equally important as the gin is the vermouth, and I tend to go for Dolin Rouge because it’s isn’t syrupy sweet like other lower-quality brands. Lastly, the bitters component should never be compromised as it should always be Campari. The bright-red liquid brings the cocktail visually to life while aiding the blend of flavors of gin and vermouth.

In Tucci’s version, he used an exceptionally high amount of gin and while he can enjoy his style of Negroni to his heart’s delight, it’s already a boozy drink at three liquid ounces. If you want the drink to be a touch drier, an additional quarter ounce of gin might work or if you want a larger cocktail, use a higher pour but keep the parts equal. That said, if you drink one Negroni, you probably won’t want another because of its bittersweet but refreshing profile.

Classic Negroni recipe:

  • 1 oz London Dry Gin (does not have to be distilled in London)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari

Combine the spirits in an ice-filled mixing glass with room to stir without spilling. Stir in the glass for about 30 seconds or until well chilled. Pour the cocktail through the mixing glass strainer into a rocks glass filled with ice, or better, a large format ice cube or sphere. Express the oils of a one-inch orange peel over the drink and garnish with the peel if you choose.

Once done, it should look something like this…

Negroni

Source: D.L. Chandler / D.L. Chandler

The Negroni is best consumed slowly in order to experience the complexity of flavors ahead of a hearty meal. With the melting of the ice, the drink’s flavor will change but not drastically. There are several versions of the Negroni, such as the Unusual Negroni and the White Negroni that we’ll visit at a later date.

Be sure to circle back and check out our Old Fashioned recipe here.

Until then, sip safely, friends.

Photos: Getty, D.L. Chandler