The Negroni cocktail, a complex, sophisticated, Italian aperitif that can be elusive to many new drinkers. While this classic cocktail is known for its equal ratios of alcohol, my Negroni is more gin-forward, which keeps the bitterness of the Campari in check.
The Negroni Cocktail Crafted With Care And Love
I’ve always felt the ultimate test of a gin’s character is its ability to stand up for itself in a Negroni cocktail. And I do have my preference on what brand gin (and vermouth) I think works best!
I’ve tasted lots of Negroni cocktails I would consider “bitter-wrecks” and just too “in your face” for my preference. The Negroni should taste as alluring as it looks, which is why I don’t subscribe to the traditional 1:1:1 ratio of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari (it’s a bit syrupy) – I change it up a little and stick with brands I think give the best aromatics, while also complementing and balancing the drinking experience for this aperitif. I would never steer you wrong.
The Negroni, with its strong flavor profile, will never be as friendly and welcoming a cocktail as my cosmo recipe or lemon drop martini, because it’s a complex and sophisticated drink that does take some time to appreciate fully. Some people may not enjoy it at first, but do develop a taste for it over time.
Overall, personal taste and preference play the most significant role in whether someone loves or doesn’t love the Negroni cocktail. This is why it’s worth trying different variations and experimenting with the recipe to find what works best for you.
Cocktail lore and legend is part of the fun of drinking (and eating) isn’t it? I’m an avid reader when it comes to food history and I love knowing where, how and why a certain recipe came from.
The Negroni was created in Florence, Italy in the early 20th century (1919), when Count Camillo Negroni asked his bartender to make a stronger version of his favorite cocktail , the Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth, soda water). The bartender replaced the soda water with gin and the Negroni cocktail was born. It became extremely popular drink in Italian culture and eventually spread around the world.
The Best Gin and Vermouth For Making A Negroni
While these are my personal choices, remember that a Negroni cocktail is made with only three ingredients so it’s important to use only good quality gin, sweet vermouth and Campari for the best results. And in the end, it’s really about what the perfect Negroni ratio is for you!
Best Gin For Negroni
The market for gin has really expanded over the years, and with so many choices, it’s often difficult to know what to choose. I feel using one of these new age gins in a negroni misses the mark when it comes to spice notes, the heat that needs to be in a Negroni.
I also know some of you are holding on to your Tanqueray No. Ten gin for dear life, and it does make a good Negroni , with lots of citrus undertones (but it is my second choice). However, my absolute favorite gin for the Negroni is the classic Beefeater London. Beefeater is not just for a gin and tonic! The botanical nature of this gin really works well with the vermouth and Campari. Beefeater has juniper, clean citrus and my favorite, an addition of almonds, which gives it a nutty undertone, body and mouthfeel. Ironically, it’s one of the most well-priced gins out there, which means you can feel ease about experimenting with different ratios and not break the bank. I hope you’ll give it a try.
Best Vermouth For Negroni
While I’m very passionate about what gin goes into a Negroni, I feel just as strongly about the brand of sweet vermouth I use to make this Italian cocktail.
My absolute favorite vermouth is Carpano Antica Formula, it’s vanilla and chocolate notes are what you want to help achieve the best possible Negroni outcome. The supporting role this sweet vermouth plays in this cocktail creation cannot be understated.
It’s very possible you’ll have to order this vermouth online, it can be hard to find at small liquor stores, especially in my neck of the woods.
Carpano is also good enough to sip on it own, on the rocks. It’s really that special.
Here are some takes on the classic Negroni, but is it really a negroni if Campari is left out? (I don’t think so.)
- Boulevardier: replace the gin with bourbon or rye whiskey.
- White Negroni: replace the red vermouth with dry vermouth and the Campari with Suze or any other bitter liqueur.
- Negroni Sbagliato: replace the gin with sparkling wine or Prosecco.
- Coffee Negroni: add a shot of espresso to the classic Negroni recipe.
- Mezcal Negroni: replace the gin with mezcal for a smoky twist.
- Negroni Bianco: replace the Campari with a lighter aperitif, such as Aperol or Select, and use white vermouth instead of red.
- Negroni Rosato: replace the Campari with a rosé vermouth and use a dry white vermouth instead of red.
- Negroni Martini: shake gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari with ice, then strain into a martini glass and garnish with an orange twist.
- Negroni Fizz: add soda water or tonic water to the classic Negroni recipe for a refreshing long drink.
- Barrel-Aged Negroni: mix the Negroni ingredients and age the cocktail in a barrel for a few weeks to add complexity and depth of flavor. –this is good
Negroni Food Pairing
Since a Negroni is popularly served before a meal, as an aperitif, it’s best enjoyed with small bites. Here are some of my favorites Negroni food pairing bites.
- Charcuterie: The salty, savory flavors of cured meats like prosciutto or salami complement the bitterness of Negroni. Wrap the prosciutto in melon for the perfect Negroni food pairing.
- Olives: The briny, salty flavors of olives help balance out the bitterness of the Negroni, making it a perfect pairing. Choose lots of different olive varieties from the olive bar at your local market.
- Cheese: Hard cheeses like Parmesan, aged cheddar, or manchego have a strong, nutty flavor that pairs well with the bold flavors of this cocktail. The manchego goes really well with the Beefeater gin.
- Grilled meats: The smoky, charred flavors of grilled meats like steak, lamb chops, or pork belly can help balance out the bitterness of Negroni and bring out its fruity notes.
- Spicy snacks: If you prefer a little heat, serve your Negroni with spicy snacks like roasted almonds, wasabi peas, or chili-spiced popcorn.
Don’t forget that perfect Negroni garnish!
More Things To Sip On
When it comes to cocktails and aperitif drinks, there are always a plethora of choices. Sometimes we are guided by the occasion or the weather, but mostly it’s about just enjoying what you love!
- This strawberry grapefruit Paloma is a great twist on the classic and so perfect for alfresco dining.
- Speaking of outdoor dining, serve up these red wine slushies or agave margaritas on the next warm afternoon.
- Hosting your next book club? This refreshing Hemingway daiquiri would be an appropriate offering.
- The “Dirty Shirley” is the adult version of the Shirley Temple cocktail. It’s a welcomed treat on a summer evening.
- So much recipe testing went into what I consider the best mojito. I hope you try it.
IF YOU DO MIX UP THIS COCKTAIL, IT WOULD BE GREAT TO KNOW HOW GOOD YOURS WAS and who you were cheers-ing with. Snap a photo and tag @NOBLEPIG and #noblepig on INSTAGRAM so I can see how it turned out.
I would also love to hear about your favorite Negroni. What ratios of alcohol and brands do you consider make the best version? Always remember the best Negroni will be what you like the most, so make sure to keep trying different formulas until you find your favorite. Do you have an outstanding Negroni food pairing? I’d love to know about it.
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Making An Approachable Negroni
- 1.5 oz. gin
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth (red)
- .75 oz. Campari
- orange peel and orange slices (Negroni garnish)
- Fill a cocktail shaker or a tall glass with ice and pour in gin, vermouth and Campari. Stir together until very cold, about 30 seconds.1.5 oz. gin, 1 oz. sweet vermouth (red), .75 oz. Campari
- Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass using the cocktail shaker's strainer or a Hawthorne strainer if using a regular glass.
- For the Negroni garnish, use a small serrated knife, remove a 1" strip of peel from an orange (some white pith is okay); it should be stiff enough to provide some resistance when bent. Twist over drink to express oils; discard (or use in the drink), or garnish with orange slices.orange peel and orange slices (Negroni garnish)
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