The NEGRONI COCKTAIL
ARTWORK by JAMES STARACE
The Negroni! A cocktail most Americans do not know. Too bad! With its contents of bitter Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin, the Negroni is quite the unique cocktail. Best of all, it’s tasty and refreshing, with the essence of an Orange Peel, it’s invigorates and rejuvenates The Negroni is wonderful any time of the year, however, it is especially pleasing on a hot Summers day somewhere on the Coast in Italy, The South of France, or anywhere on the Mediterranean, or the Hamptons or South Beach for that matter.
So, not many people know of the Negroni and its charms, other than the more Sophisticated among our population. Even just a minute percentage of those who have traveled to its birthplace in Italy will even know of the cocktail. In this country, it is drunk more often in the city of New York. A city with a higher “Sophisticate” ratio than most, but even still, just a few will know of this drink, the Negroni Cock-tail.
So what it is it? Well its base is the highly popular aperitif of bitter Campari, a Bitter-Sweet aperitif from Torino, Italy. The Negroni is made of 1 0z. Campari, 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth, 3/4 oz. Gin, over ice cubes in a Rocks Glass with a splash of Club Soda on top and garnished with a slice of Orange or Orange peel. Voila!
The Negroni is usually drunk as an aperitif before dinner in the early evening, but just wonderful any-time of the afternoon, especially Alfresco, or late in-
to the evening day. A Negroni is a particularly splendid drink for a leisurely Afternoon Cocktail or two. As a matter of fact, I just had a couple nice after-noon Negroni’s at Cipriani Downtown just the other day.
The base of the Negroni Cocktail is the well known Italian Bitter Aperitif Campari created in Novaro, Italy near Milano in the 1860 by Gaspare Campari. The secret recipe that has been carefully guarded for more than 150 years consists of and in-fusion of alcohol, Herbs, and vegetables, including, Orange Peel, Chinotto, and other secret ingredients.
The Negroni Cocktail was created in 1919 at the Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy when the Count Neg-roni, a regular customer of the caffe, asked his wait-er for a Americano that had a little more of a kick to it. The Barman and waiter obliged the Count with a cocktail made with the normal Campari, and Sweet Vermouth of the Americano but with the addition of London Dry Gin. The Count Loved the Cocktail which was named after him and thus the Negroniwas born.
A NEGRONI and Its INGREDIENTS
“Do You Remember Your First Time,” was the slogan of a wonderful Ad Campaign by Campari with pictures of good looking men or Gorgeous Women, and some sort of Campari Cocktail in hand, usually the most famous of Campari and Soda with a twist of Orange. The Ad was asking you if you remember the First Time you had your first Campari, but of course there was the Sexual connotation eluding to the first time you had Sex.
A ploy often used by marketers and ad agencies.
I remember “My First.” It was of course on my first trip to Italy in 1985 sitting outside at a Caffe on The Piazza Popolo in Rome. I had seen the ads and people drinking them outside and when my waiter came over, I ordered one. It took a little getting used to at first, but I loved it and have ever since, and I’ve turned many people on to the drink ever since. On a whole, just a small percentage of Americans have ev-er even tasted Campari at all, whether it’s a Campariand Soda, Campari & OJ, or my beloved Negroni.
So, if you’ve never had one, it’s time to get on the stick. We drink them like crazy at my buddy Pat Par-rotta’s house. Pat is an Italian Wine Lover, who throws great dinner parties, and he’s quite the dam good cook. We eat Pasta, Chicken, Steaks, Saus-ages, whatever, always with some nice Italian Wine.
Pat is a great host who knows how to throw a great dinner party. His dinners parties are always a huge success and we always start the day off with what has become a tradition at Pat and Gina’s home, a couple tasty Negroni’s or Campari Spritzers to get things rolling. I always look forward to having my Negroni when I get to Pat’s after riding the Ferry over from Manhattan.
As I’ve already stated, Pat is a wonderful Host who has great enthusiasm to cook for friends and family, serving some nice Italian Wine, along with
his celebrated Negroni’s which are better than just about any Bartender in New York. “For Real!”
Making a good Negroni, brings to mind, that it’s not that easy. Not everyone can do it, as you need to get the proper balance of these very prominent ingredients of Campari, Gin, and Sweet Vermouth. I can, and Pat can, but many a bartender does not, no matter what they may think. I’ve been extolling the Wonders and Virtues of Campari and the Neg-roni for well over 20 years, while just a few Ameri-can’s on a whole have yet to discover it. Even as now some big cocktail association has named the Negroni, “The Cocktail of The Year” for 2011. People are just now catching up. I could have told you 20 years ago. In fact, “I did.”
Anyway, back to Bartenders who don’t know how to make a proper Negroni. I was recently at a popular restaurant that has two bars inside where they make the new So-Called Artisanal Cocktails and House Specialty Drinks, made by “Mixologists.”
I ordered a Negroni. The Bartender made it and served it to me straight-up in a cocktail glass. I asked him to put it in a Rocks Glass with ice, whereby he gave me an almost disdainful look, as if he made a great drink the right way and who the Hell was I to have him alter it. “These Mixologist.” Well, first off, the drink was not great. It wasn’t even good. It was out of balance, and as I’ve said, in making a proper Negroni, it’s all about balance,
I know the balance, Pat knows the balance, that bartender did not. I’ve been drinking these things for more than 20 years, and I’m not going to have some bartender who’s just started making them a few months ago and who’s never been to Italy in his life tell me how it’s done. “Not gonna Happen!”
So my friends, if you’ve yet to imbibe in one.
Don’t you think it’s high-time? Just make sure to get a bartender who knows the ropes. I sugest Cipriani Downtown. Even better, the families flagship restaurant, Harry’s Bar, Venice, in Rome or on the Amalfi Coast.
“The NEGRONI” excerpted from Daniel Bellino Zwicke’s Book “LA TAVOLA”
In Paperback and kindle Edition
LEARN How to Make The Perfecr NEGRONI COCKTAIL …. Pat Parotta’s Recipe in SUNDAY SAUCE by Daniel Bellino “Z”