It's Negroni week and a good time as any to share a little history and a couple of recipes.
Here's how the story goes... it's 1919 in Florence, Italy and a Count walks into a bar (Bar Casoni to be exact) and asks the bartender to stiffen up his favorite drink, the Americano. Behind the stick is veteran bartender Fosco Scarselli. Fosco is aware of the Count's reputation for kicking back quite a few cocktails, and came up with a brilliant plan to amp up the drink and please his guest. Fosco decided to swap the Americano's soda water for gin and added an orange peel for garnish. He presented his cocktail to the eagerly awaiting Count Camillo Negroni, and voila! The Negroni was born!
Now that you know how the Negroni came to be, here are some other interesting, possibly true tidbits about the Italian Count. When he wasn't inspiring the invention of new cocktails, rumor has it that Count Negroni was running around the Wild, Wild West gambling and trying his hand at being a cowboy. Another story has him teaching fencing at a school in New York. Whatever the Counts adventures truly were, I'm awfully glad he decided to throw back a cocktail (or two) at Bar Casoni all those years ago. Kudos to Fosco Scarselli for his masterful bartender skills. After all, it may have been the Count that inspired the cocktail but it was Fosco that created it.
Lesson: tip your bartenders well and they'll take good care of you.
You might even get a cocktail named after you!
If you've never tried a Negroni, or if you're a Negroni fan, Negroni week is the perfect time to visit participating bars or restaurants and drink like a Count. During Negroni Week, participating bars and restaurants donate a portion of each Negroni sale to a charity of their choice.
Negroni Week was started in 2013 by Imbibe magazine and Campari as a way to celebrate the Negroni and raise money for charities. Each year more and more bars and restaurants around the world sign up to participate. Negroni Week grew from about 120 participating venues to over 7,700 venues around the world, and to date, they have collectively raised nearly $1.5 million for charitable causes.
Negroni Week runs from June 4-10, 2018
For those of you who have yet to try a Negroni, here are a few things to know before jumping in...
The Negroni is a flavor filled drink. The gin brings it's juniper notes, sweet vermouth has it's herbal, sweet and light bitter notes and then there's Campari. Campari is an orange Italian liqueur with a distinct bitter-sweet orange flavor. For some it's a way of life, a beautiful apertif, for others it takes a little getting used to, especially if you're not used to it's bitter sweetness. Below are a few classic cocktails using Campari, don't be afraid to switch it up. Adding a splash or orange or grapefruit juice is a nice compliment, or add a few dashes of bitters to accent the orange flavors. Cheers!
Here are a few Negroni and Negroni-ish recipes if you feel like mixing up one or two at home.
1 oz gin
1 oz sweet vermouth (recommended: Carpano Antica Formula)
1 oz Campari
Add first three ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice, stir until chilled. Strain and serve over ice in a rocks glass or if you prefer, serve straight up in a coupe glass. Express orange peel over cocktail and rub the peel around rim. Garnish and enjoy the noble Negroni.
*try this: add a few dashes of orange or grapefruit bitters
1 1/2 oz Campari
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
lemon or orange twist
In an ice filled glass, stir together Campari and sweet vermouth. Express lemon peel over the cocktail and rub the peel around rim. Garnish and enjoy!
Ingredients: Equals parts Campari, Sweet Vermouth and sparkling wine. Orange swathe for garnish.
Add Campari and sweet vermouth to an ice filled mixing glass. Stir until chilled. Strain into an ice filled cocktail glass. Top with sparkling wine.
Give the orange swathe a gentle squeeze to express the orange oils over the drink, swipe it around the glass and drop it in for garnish. Cheers!
one of my favorites! Almost a Negroni but with bourbon instead of gin
1 1/2 oz Bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz Campari
orange peel for garnish
Add ingredients to an ice filled mixing glass and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass, rocks glass if you prefer and add
orange peel garnish. Enjoy!
*Prefer gin over bourbon or maybe you like bourbon but aren't quite sure about gin? Try this! Instead of bourbon or gin use Watershed Distillery's Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin. Definitely more of a gin but with a warm mellow oakiness that gives you the best of both worlds.
Cleveland Bars & Restaurants participating in Negroni Week:
Be sure to check out https://negroniweek.com/venues/ to find a participating establishments near you
Have fun trying out their creative takes on the classic Negroni cocktail!
**The gorgeous photography is by Suzuran Photography