This September we have partnered with The Westmount for Negroni Week to understand the history of the Negroni and how to add your own personal twist!
By Murray Anderson @thewestmount
Ah, Negroni Week… One of the few cocktail celebrations that I really sink my teeth right into. It’s funny, I remember drinking my first ever negroni in a gin bar in my home city and I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept: extremely bitter, heavy on alcohol and something that my palate didn’t have the pleasure of understanding. How things have changed.
After working in the cocktail industry for several years and luckily landing a job with a fantastic Vermouth di Torino company, I began to fall in love with this Italian tradition that has been painting the world red since the 1860s.
How it all started
The origin of the negroni is a great story that stems from the negroni’s ‘father’, the Americano. A cocktail created in the 1860s - when Americans found it necessary to water the Italians beverages down. The story begins when Count Camillo Negroni visited Café Casoni in Florence in 1919. His favourite cocktail at the time, the Americano, clearly wasn’t cutting it and he requested his bartender to replace the soda in his Americano with gin. Little did he know that this simple twist of fate would birth a legendary concoction that is still very much present in today’s bar scene. For the record, I also wrote that entire piece without the assistance of google (dates and everything), so I’m hoping that fact exhibits my passion for this little cocktail.
For anyone wondering, the original cocktail without gin or soda, is a fantastic low-ABV cocktail called the Milano-Torino, or Mi-To for short. I guess you could call it the grandfather of the negroni cocktail and essentially, the root of this whole negroni conversation. It was made by Gaspare Campari in the 1860s in his effort to help sell Campari to the Italian people. It involves equal parts of Campari and Italian Vermouth di Torino and like most things created in Italy, it’s elegant, timeless, and still very much alive in their culture today!
Creativity and the Negroni
When it comes to creativity with negroni cocktails, I like to keep it simple. It’s important to remember the premise of the cocktail itself, perfectly balanced with sweet and bitter notes and most importantly, a combination of quality ingredients that work magnificently together. As I spent more time learning the art of cocktails, I suppose I adopted these rules for most of the drinks I make now. It’s a lot more fun using less ingredients in mixology, as it really forces you to take everything into consideration… Quality of ingredients, ice, garnish, glassware choice etc.
Take this negroni cocktail I made for example. the concept: A negroni twist with the addition of Speyside Whisky, paying homage to my home country, Scotland. Using this base spirit, it brings in notes of apricot, honey and spice. Working alongside those key flavours, I added CUCIELO Rosso Vermouth di Torino; a fantastic Italian vermouth that helps add sweetness and an array of beautiful aroma from the botanicals present. Next, Apricot infused Campari. This simple sous-vide infusion helps takes the edge off the bitterness and pairs perfectly with the whisky. To serve the cocktail, I used a NUDE Savage Tumbler to showcase the simple, yet beautifully crafted elements in the drink and lastly… a spritz of fragrant orange peel over the cocktail, poured over a large block of clear ice.
Remember, it’s easy to hide behind a cocktail with 15 ingredients, but serving a cocktail with 3? Maybe there’s a lot to be learned about the negroni cocktail… Sometimes, perfection lies within simplicity itself.
NUDE Mixology Competition
If, like us all this Negroni talk has got you in the mood for a tipple then there is still time to enter our NUDE Glass mixology competition which gives you the chance to create a cocktail as well as the chance to win 1000 worth of NUDE Glass – sounds like a good idea to us! Good Luck!