September 11, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet
Choosing the best gin for a Negroni can seem like a tall order, we know. Happily, our seasoned team of cocktail professionals is here to guide the way. We take this privilege quite seriously since the time-honored Negroni cocktail has been around for over a century and remains as classy as complex to this day.
The magic of the Negroni lies in the equal-parts ratio of gin, Campari, and vermouth. When stirred and served over ice, the result is a cocktail that’s a perfect balance of bitter, sweet, floral, fruity, spicy, and herbaceous flavors. Since each ingredient plays such an important role, it pays to choose them wisely.
So, without further ado, here is The Mixer’s guide to choosing the best gin for a Negroni.
How to choose a gin for a Negroni
When it comes to selecting the ideal gin for your Negroni cocktail, there are a few key factors to consider. Keep it simple and straightforward with our fool-proof guide:
The type of gin you use makes all the difference. For instance, a London dry gin is the traditional go-to for Negroni lovers. Its juniper-forward profile pairs harmoniously with the other cocktail components.
On the other hand, Plymouth Gin is characterized by a well-balanced and smooth taste. It marries pronounced herbal and citrus notes with a touch of sweetness, offering a versatile canvas for cocktail creativity. Read more about gin types for Negroni cocktails below.
Here are a few factors to consider when it comes to the flavor of the gin you choose to make a Negroni:
Citrus notes. Look for gins with citrus undertones, such as lemon or orange. These can contribute to the cocktail’s refreshing and zesty character.
Herbal complexity. Some gins boast herbal elements like coriander, thyme, or rosemary. These botanicals can complement the Negroni’s herbaceous qualities.
The aroma also plays a big role. Here is what you should be looking for in a gin:
Delicate botanicals. A gin with a well-balanced and nuanced aroma is ideal. It should offer a subtle hint of botanicals without being overly perfumed.
Freshness. Seek out gins that give off a crisp, clean scent. This freshness will enhance the overall drinking experience.
To set the scene for a beautifully balanced drink, keep an eye on:
Alcohol content. Ensure the gin you choose has an appropriate alcohol content, typically around 40% ABV. This helps to maintain the cocktail’s equilibrium.
Harmony. Ultimately, the best gin for your Negroni is one that harmonizes seamlessly with the Campari and vermouth, creating a cocktail that’s bitter, sweet, and perfectly balanced.
What about a White Negroni?
The White Negroni is a unique variation of this classic drink that is now cocktail canon. It has a gin backbone that is supported by herbaceous white vermouth and floral gentian liqueur. Made from the roots of the gentian plant, this unique liqueur is bittersweet and stands in for the classic Campari. Bursting with bittersweet layers, it’s nevertheless light and easy and finishes with a touch of floral sweetness.
When selecting a gin for a White Negroni, you’ll want to embrace the cocktail’s distinctive flavor profile. Here’s how to approach it differently:
- Opt for a gin that complements the gentian liqueur’s bitterness. Look for one with a slightly softer juniper presence to avoid overpowering the delicate floral and herbal notes in the drink.
- Gins with citrusy undertones, like lemon or grapefruit, can enhance the White Negroni’s refreshing qualities.
- Choose a gin with botanicals that resonate with the gentian liqueur’s herbal and floral complexity. This will ensure a harmonious fusion of flavors.
- Err on the side of a subtle and clean aroma to let the gentian liqueur and vermouth shine through.
Interesting right? Now, let’s take a deep dive into different types of gin and how the use of each will impact the overall character of your Negroni.
1. London dry gin
London dry gin, the venerable stalwart of the gin world, brings a distinctive character to your Negroni that impacts its flavor, texture, and visual appeal. Crafted through a meticulous distillation process, it starts with a neutral grain spirit, creating a clean canvas for its precise blend of botanicals. London dry gin is also renowned for its juniper-forward taste, with lively citrus and subtle herbal notes.
This crisp, clean profile adds a refreshing texture to your Negroni and imparts a classic, translucent appearance. Its unwavering commitment to juniper ensures a bold flavor that enhances the cocktail’s bitterness and complexity, making it an ideal choice for Negroni enthusiasts.
2. Plymouth gin
Plymouth gin, another cherished classic, will also impart a distinctive touch to your Negroni, influencing its taste, mouthfeel, and appearance. Hailing from historic Plymouth in England, this type of gin features a higher proportion of root botanicals. This special formula lends a subtly sweeter and earthier character to classic cocktails, creating a delightful contrast to the bitterness of Campari.
Plymouth gin’s well-balanced and smooth flavor, blending herbal and citrus notes with a touch of sweetness, elevates the cocktail’s complexity. Its protected geographical status ensures that this exceptional profile remains intact, making it an emblematic choice for gin aficionados seeking a Negroni with a hint of maritime heritage.
Drink Like an Italian: 8 Campari Cocktails to Try
3. Navy strength gin
Navy strength gin, known for its boldness, can significantly impact your Negroni. While its production process is akin to other gins, what makes it distinct is its potency, clocking in at a robust 57% ABV or higher.
Originating from Britain and Holland, it has historical ties to the British Royal Navy which had to carry alcohol with a high ABV to ensure that gunpowder would still ignite in the event of a spill.
This gin offers a juniper-forward flavor with an intense botanical presence, making it perfect for cocktails needing a strong gin base. Unlike London dry gin, Navy strength’s standout feature is its strength, adding a robust kick to your Negroni and ensuring a cocktail with a punch.
4. Japanese gin
Japanese gin, a rising star in the spirits world, is crafted using traditional methods. It starts with a neutral base spirit, often rice or barley, and incorporates local botanicals like yuzu, cherry blossoms, and green tea. Originating in Japan, it embodies precision and innovation, reflecting the nation’s craftsmanship and respect for nature.
Japanese gin typically offers a balanced blend of juniper, citrus, and floral notes with a hint of herbal complexity, adding an elegant touch to classic cocktails like the Negroni. This meticulous attention to detail results in a softer, refined taste, often yielding a particularly compelling aroma. Each brand may incorporate regional botanicals for unique flavor profiles, so it’s a good idea to experiment with different kinds.
5. Genever gin
Introducing Genever gin into your Negroni will bring a distinct whiskey-esque twist to the classic cocktail. Genever, often seen as the precursor to modern gin, boasts a unique production process, starting with a malt spirit base similar to whiskey. Infused with juniper and malted barley, it provides a richer, maltier foundation.
Originating in the Low Countries, Genever has deep historical roots dating back centuries and serves as a bridge between gin and whiskey. Its flavor profile combines maltiness, juniper, and subtle botanicals, resulting in a smoother, rounder character, with a warm, grainy essence.
Different regions may infuse their own local botanicals or adjust the malt recipe, adding regional variations to this intriguing spirit. For those who appreciate whiskey, Genever may well become the gin of choice for their Negroni.
6. Sloe gin
Sloe gin, a quirky relative of the gin family, will have a distinct impact on your Negroni. With roots in England, sloe gin is intertwined with countryside traditions and foraging. Crafted by infusing gin with sloe berries, the process requires patience as the berries have to be macerated, imparting their rich, sweet, and slightly tart flavors.
The flavor profile of this type of gin offers a luscious, fruity sweetness with hints of sloe berry tartness, a departure from traditional botanical-forward gins. What sets it apart is the star ingredient – sloe berries, creating a unique, fruit-forward gin experience that will add a unique charm to your Negroni. Regional variations may introduce subtle flavor nuances based on sloe berry types and their ripeness.
7. Flavored gin
Flavored gin can add an exciting twist to your Negroni by infusing the taste and aroma of different botanicals, fruits, or herbs that offer a burst of unique flavors. Originating in England, this type of spirit has gained global popularity with those on a quest to create fresh taste experiences.
Flavored gin typically blends juniper with specific infusions, such as citrus, spices, or berries, resulting in distinctive profiles. As such, unlike London dry gin’s juniper-forward character, flavored gins can introduce playful and diverse tastes.
Regional differences arise from the choice of botanicals and fruits, with local ingredients shaping unique flavor variations. In short, experimenting with flavored gin can bring a delightful sense of personal dimension to your Negroni, perfect for those craving a twist in the classic tale.
8. Spiced Negroni gin
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at making an infused spirit and love a bit of heat in a cocktail, we can highly recommend making your own Spiced Negroni gin.
Typically, a Spicy Negroni is made using Campari, mezcal, and Ancho Reyes Chilli Liqueur, but can also get crafty and put the heat into the gin itself! Infusing Bulldog Gin with your choice of chili peppers is a straightforward process that adds an exciting kick to your cocktails.
To get started, you’ll need a large jar with a lid or simply use the gin bottle itself. For the chili peppers, you have options depending on your heat preference. For milder heat, go for jalapeno peppers; for a mid-level kick, opt for serrano peppers. If you want it hot, try habanero peppers, or for an intense heat, go with ghost peppers or even hotter varieties.
Begin by slicing the chosen chili peppers in half and then adding them to the gin bottle, ensuring they sink beneath the liquid to avoid exposure to air. Alternatively, you can place the peppers in a jar and pour the gin over them. Allow the peppers to steep in the gin for at least two days, but you can extend this period according to your desired flavor intensity, anywhere from two hours to several weeks, or even longer.
During the infusion process, periodically taste the gin to gauge the level of flavor and spiciness you prefer. Once you’ve achieved the desired infusion, strain out the peppers, and your homemade chili-infused gin will be ready to elevate your cocktail game. Enjoy experimenting with this uniquely flavored spirit in your favorite drinks.
By considering these gin types and the impact they will have on the character of your cocktail, you’ll be well on your way to making the perfect Negroni. Remember, the magic of this drink lies in the synergy of its ingredients, and choosing the right gin for your Negroni recipe is a crucial step in achieving that delightful balance.
Keen to learn more about the art of choosing the right base spirit for your favorite classic cocktail? Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll tell you all about it!