FACT OR COCKTAIL? The history of the Negroni


The Negroni, along with the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, has become the “it” cocktail of this century, but the allure of the brightly hued mixed drink dates back close to a century.

The origins of the cocktail are found at Caffè Casoni (now Caffè Giacosa) in Florence. It has been said that Conte (Count) Cammillo Negroni ordered an Americano (red vermouth, Campari and club soda) with gin substituted for the usual club soda. The drink caught on. Soon thereafter, the Negroni family opened a distillery producing a premade version of the cocktail. Some suggest that the count’s choice for a stiffer drink than the norm refl ects his previous line of work. Believe it or not, the count had just returned from America, where he worked as a rodeo clown.

Orson Welles writes about the cocktail after a visit to Rome.

Negroni Sbagliato (the mistaken Negroni) becomes one of the fi rst variations of the classic cocktail. The mistake was adding Prosecco instead of gin.2011 Campari declares it The Year of the Negroni, setting off a marketing campaign to bring renewed attention to the cocktail.

Imbibe magazine launches Negroni Week which has now expanded to more than 40 countries and is celebrated in thousands of establishments. This year’s event takes place from June 6 to 12. 


Negroni Flip

Recipe by Jared Wall, The Prince George Hotel

2 servings

The flip, in this case, is substituting Aperol for the Campari. The combination of its flavour profile, coupled with the velvet-like creaminess of the egg, was too good to pass up.

Place 1 fluid ounce Citadelle Gin, 1 fluid ounce Cinzano Francesco Rosso, 1 fluid ounce Aperol and 1 whole egg in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake, very hard, for 25 to 30 seconds. Add ice and shake for an additional 10 seconds. Fine strain into coupe glasses and garnish with burnt orange oil and orange zest, carved into rectangular shape and pinned to glass.

Sherry Negroni

Recipe by Jared Wall, The Prince George Hotel

2 servings

In this version, gin is replaced with Sherry. The Sherry also takes slight precedence over the other two ingredients, in relation to the standard “equal parts” ratio for spirits used in most Negroni recipes.

Place 1 1/2 fluid ounces Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Sherry, 1 fluid ounce Campari and 1 fluid ounce Martini & Rossi Rosso in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir for 8 to 10 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with a wedge of orange, slit in middle, resting on the side of the glass.


Melted Snow Negroni

Recipe by Anne-Marie Bungay-LaRose, bartender at The Middle Spoon and Noble

1 serving

This spin on a Negroni will warm you from the inside out. The hint of winter spices from the B&B and orange flavours from the Lillet Blanc bring a great balance to the traditional Negroni flavours. It all comes together to make the perfect cocktail for those early spring days when the snow has just melted away.

Combine 1/4 fluid ounce Campari, 1/4 fluid ounce Brandy & Benedictine, 1/4 fluid ounce Lillet and 1/2 fluid ounce Tanqueray 10 Gin in a large rocks glass, filled 3/4 full with ice. Stir for 30 seconds, garnish with a flamed sprig of rosemary.

**To flame the rosemary, you can use a lighter by running the flame along the rosemary leaves until they curl slightly and give off aroma. Be careful not to burn yourself!

A Sure Thing

Recipe by Anne-Marie Bungay-LaRose, bartender at The Middle Spoon and Noble

2 servings

This cocktail has all the great flavours of the Negroni, with a floral twist. Light, fresh and shaken, this will be the perfect intro of Negroni flavours to your palate.

Combine 1/2 fluid ounce fresh lemon juice, 1/2 fluid ounce sweet vermouth, 1/2 fluid ounce St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur and 1 fluid ounce Hendricks Gin in a shaker tin, fill with ice and shake.  Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a slice of cucumber. For a more intense cucumber flavour, add a slice or two of cucumber to the shaker tin before shaking.

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