The perfect Negroni – its recipe must be the simplest one in the world. And yet, some people make a better Negroni than others. And with all due respect to Stanley Tucci, and his viral video making a Negroni, he does not make the real, verifiable, authentic Negroni. But it did make me watch it 3 times as I did not believe my eyes!
(I am not alone in my disdain for tinkering with the recipe in any way whatsoever. I laughed when I read these comments on https://drinksanddrinking.com/2015/08/04/the-best-negroni-in-the-world/ :
“Gin. It’s made with gin. For the love of god. Not mezcal, not aquavit, not genever, not barrel-aged gin. Gin.” and Equal Parts. A Negroni is equal parts Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. Yes, it comes with a bit of sweetness. Deal with it. The sweetness is part of the charm. There’s no adding more gin. That’s blasphemy, and it also doesn’t taste as good.” Blasphemy! I actually said sacrilege, but the same idea.
Don’t mess with the recipe!
The Negroni is the perfect Italian aperitivo – 3 ingredients of exactly equal measure: 1 shot of Campari, 1 shot of gin, and one shot of Vermouth Rosso. That’s it. Stirred not shaken, and served on the rocks, with a slice of orange, if you are in Italy. Outside of Italy, an orange twist sometimes adorns it.
If you veer from this recipe, please call it something else, even if your name is Stanley Tucci!
And yes there are take-offs that, thankfully, do have different names, such as the appropriately named Negroni Sbagliato which uses prosecco instead of gin – appropriate because Sbagliato means “wrong”, “mistake” or “messed up.” Well-named in my puristic opinion!
As to the origin of the Negroni… It’s not often that something named Americano forms the basis for something Italian, but that happened in this case.
First, we had the Milano-Torino which was a cocktail of equal parts Campari and sweet Vermouth.
And then in 1860 in Gaspare Campari’s bar in Milano, Gaspare added soda water to the Milano-Torino and created the Americano, so named because it was popular among Americans, probably because it was more palatable for them.
And for James Bond fans, the Americano was his first-ever drink order, in the book “Casino Royale” published in 1953.
But who created the Negroni?
Then the hero of the story, Italian Count Camillo Negroni, in the early 20th century in Florence, replaced the soda water with gin to make his drink stronger, and voila, the Negroni is created.
But, and it’s a big but, there was no Italian Count Camillo Negroni, despite the book that claims it to be the real story of the Negroni.
Members of the de Negroni family researched as far back as the 11th Century to find that no Count Camillo Negroni existed. They claim the actual inventor was General Pascal Oliver Comte de Negroni, who was born in Corsica, making the investor of the iconic Negroni a Frenchman! But there is no story of how it came about.
Don’t ask me which version is true! I am just grateful to that person for such an iconic drink.
The mysterious Campari
However, the most interesting part of the Negroni and a bigger mystery than its origin, is the main, essential ingredient, Campari. Created in 1860 by Gaspare Campari in Novara, Italy, its recipe is a closely guarded secret. The only 2 known ingredients are alcohol and water. The other ingredients are between 20 and 80 herbs, flowers and fruit. Which ones, in which proportions, remains a mystery.
It has remained unchanged and is very distinctive. As the Campari site says, “Its vibrant red colour, intense aroma and distinctive bitter taste make it extremely versatile, and the perfect base for some of the most famous cocktails around the world.”
And it’s one of those things you either love or hate. Needless to say, I love it!
So many gins
And of course, there are different choices of gin and of Vermouth. Who could possibly try all the various combinations? Consider just trying different gin, of which there are 5 types – London Dry (juniper flavoured and aromatic, e.g. Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater), Plymouth Gin (less dry and softer juniper than London Dry), Genever or Dutch Gin (Bols Genever), Old Tom Gin, and International Gin (e.g. Hendrick’s).
Of these, the London Dry would be the classic one to make the perfect Negroni, giving the proper balance of the ingredients. And besides, it is the one that would have been used in the original. If you want a softer juniper flavour, use the Plymouth Gin.
Or, who knows, since contrary to public knowledge, gin is actually an Italian invention, dating back to 1050 AD, when monks on Italy’s Salerno Coast “blended locally foraged juniper (“ginepro”, in Italian) with spirit in the Monastery kitchens to create what we now know as Gin.” (www.italialiving.com)
And which vermouth?
And then we have the vermouth, yet another variable that will affect the final flavour. Cinzano and Martini and Rossi are from the Torino area, as is Campari. But given that Cinzano Ross was the original vermouth from Cinzano since the mid-1700s and its competitor, Martini and Rossi made its Rosso first in 1863, it’s more likely that Cinzano would have been the vermouth of choice.
But there are now other vermouths that compliment the Campari and gin to make a perfect Negroni. Try Carpano Antica or Cocchi – both are good.
Just remember – EXACTLY equal parts of the three ingredients! Do NOT mess with the recipe!!!
And the star is Campari.
Recipe: The Negroni
1oz gin (London dry)
1oz Sweet Vermouth (Cinzano, Martini and Rosso or Antica)
Stir, and serve either on ice or up. Garnish with an orange slice or peel.
So simple and so good, ahhh!