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Best Vermouths for Negroni: Expert Recommendations & Tasting Notes

July 10, 2024 by

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The Negroni cocktail has been winning hearts globally for over a century, becoming a cherished classic the world over. Choosing the best vermouth for Negroni recipes is key to crafting this aperitivo clinker to perfection. In this guide, we’ll explore the captivating world of vermouth, helping you to stir up a Negroni that’s always on point. 

What is vermouth?  

Close up top view of an Aperol Americano cocktail presented on a silver serving platter along with assorted cocktail making tools

Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine enriched with deeply flavorful botanicals, including herbs, spices, and roots. Originating in Italy during the 18th century, it quickly became a favorite in cocktail culture. The versatility of vermouth allows it to be enjoyed on its own or as a crucial component in many classic cocktails. 

History and role in cocktails

Pouring shot of on the rocks Negroni cocktails

Originally crafted as a medicinal tonic, vermouth has evolved into a beloved aperitif and cocktail ingredient. These days, Cinzano stands as one of the world’s most recognizable vermouth brands. Giovanni and Carlo Cinzano, master Italian distillers, first introduced their range of vermouths in 1757. Yet, the history of vermouth predates even this. 

Legend has it that Hippocrates, the famous physician, was the first to infuse wine with wormwood and other spices, using it as a healing tonic. However, many credit Italian distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano as the official inventor of vermouth. In 1786, Carpano crafted a unique vermouth in Turin by combining white wine with herbs and spices, paving the way for over 30 varieties of modern vermouth. 

Vermouth ultimately gained prominence in iconic cocktails such as the Martini, Manhattan, and, of course, the Negroni. Today, the unique blend of botanicals in vermouth is revered for adding complexity and depth to a variety of amazing drinks, making it indispensable in DIY and professional mixology. 

DID YOU KNOW? The name vermouth comes from the French pronunciation of wermut, the German word for wormwood. 

Sweet vs. dry vermouth

Three Cinzano Vermouth Bottles, Cinzano Bianco, Cinzano Rosso, and Cinzano Extra Dry

Vermouth comes in two main varieties: sweet and dry. Sweet vermouth, often called red or Italian vermouth, is richer and has a balance of sweetness and bitterness. It’s essential for cocktails like the Negroni and Manhattan, where its complex flavors harmonize perfectly with gin and Campari.   

Dry vermouth, on the other hand, is lighter and more herbal, and is often referred to as French vermouth, and typically used in drinks like the classic Martini. However, for a Negroni, sweet vermouth is the preferred option, providing the necessary depth and sweetness to complement the other ingredients. 

Also see: 15 Cocktails with Vermouth for Sophisticated Sipping 

Top vermouths for a Negroni

Cinzano, a name synonymous with quality and tradition, offers an inspired spectrum of vermouths that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. These are our go-to Negroni vermouth recommendations: 

1757 Vermouth di Torino Rosso

A bartender serving a Negroni made with 1757 Vermouth di Torino Rosso

1757 Vermouth di Torino G.I. Rosso is arguably the best sweet vermouth for a Negroni. It celebrates a harmonious blend of flavors, embodying a sweet, aromatic richness that strikes a perfectly poised balance. Crafted in adherence to Piedmont tradition, this vermouth exemplifies meticulous artistry. 

  • Color: Reddish-brown with amber reflections 
  • Nose: A complex aroma of spiced wood and root notes, intertwined with vanilla, dried fruits, and delicate floral hints of wormwood. 
  • Taste: Each sip reveals dried fig, spices, and wood, culminating in subtle vanilla notes and a long, bittersweet finish reminiscent of warm amber resin. 

Cinzano Vermouth Rosso

A Bottle of Cinzano Vermouth Rosso on a tray and served with olives and crisps

Another strong contender in the race for the best red vermouth for a Negroni, Cinzano Vermouth Rosso ignited a legacy with its rich, aromatic blend. It captivates with centuries-old flavors, crafted from the finest red vermouth ingredients and a curated selection of herbs and spices. 

  • Color: Rich amber 
  • Nose: Aromatic notes of vanilla, black cherry, and subtle creamy caramel. 
  • Taste: Gentle sweetness transitions to layers of spices and balanced bitterness, culminating in a botanical finish dominated by distinctive wormwood notes. 

Expert tips for making the perfect Negroni

Festive Negroni cocktails

  • Always use Campari. Campari is a non-negotiable component of an authentic Negroni. Its unique blend of herbs and spices provides the perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness. No substitutions can replicate Campari’s distinct flavor, so make sure to always use the real deal for your Negroni. 
  • Use the best-quality gin you can find. Choose the finest quality gin for your Negroni. High-quality gin ensures a smooth and flavorful base for your cocktail, enhancing the overall drinking experience. Bulldog Gin is a great option for its crisp, juniper-forward profile 
  • Measure for accuracy. Precision is key to crafting the perfect Negroni. Use a 1 oz measure to ensure accuracy and follow the classic 1:1:1 ratio. This balance of equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth creates the ideal harmony of flavors in your drink. 
  • Stir to chill. Pour the Campari, gin, and vermouth into a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir the mixture for at least 30 seconds. This step ensures that the flavors meld together smoothly, resulting in a well-balanced Negroni. 
  • Add an orange twist. Finish your Negroni with a bright, aromatic touch. Squeeze an orange twist over the cocktail to release its essential oils, enhancing the drink’s aroma and flavor. Rub the twist along the rim of the glass before dropping it into the drink, adding a final layer of citrusy goodness. 
Choosing the best gin for a Negroni is very important. Learn all about it here.  

Negroni variations to try at home

Two White Negronis on a table in a light bright home kitchen with peach blossoms in a vase nearby

If you love the bittersweet aperitif cocktail, the good news is that we have a lovely line-up of 20 Negroni variations to stir up at home. Here are a few of our favorites.  

Also read: The Complete History of the Negroni 

Negroni food pairing ideas

Experiment with the following pairings and recipes to find your perfect Negroni food match, setting the scene for a memorable dining and cocktail experience. 

Appetizers that complement a Negroni

Top view of colorful Bruschetta appetizer with wine

Pair your Negroni with a variety of appetizers to enhance its bold flavors. For a classic option, try serving prosciutto-wrapped melon or bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil. These Italian-inspired bites balance the bitterness of the Negroni with sweet and savory notes. 

For vegan and vegetarian options, consider marinated olives, roasted nuts, or a colorful antipasto platter with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. These choices offer a delightful contrast to the cocktail’s robust profile. 

Main meals that pair well with a Negroni

Close up of a pepperoni and pepper pizza to serve as a main meal alongside a Negroni with sweet vermouth

For main courses, the Negroni pairs beautifully with rich, flavorful dishes. Think pasta with a hearty tomato sauce, grilled steak, or a classic Italian pizza with spicy sausage and caramelized onions. The cocktail’s bitterness cuts through the richness of these dishes, creating a harmonious dining experience. 

Vegetarian and vegan meals can also shine alongside a Negroni. Try a mushroom risotto, eggplant parmesan, or a vegan lasagna packed with roasted vegetables. These meals offer depth and complexity that match the cocktail’s bold character. 

Two quick pairings to try at home

Marinated olives

Close up of a bowl of marinated olives in a little blue bowl

Briny olives highlight the Negroni’s herbal notes, creating a delightful flavor combination. For a quick appetizer, try this easy recipe: 

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups drained mixed olives (green and black) 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 
  • Fresh herbs (such as rosemary and thyme), to taste 

Method 

  1. Combine the olives, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. 
  2. Add fresh herbs to taste. 
  3. Let the mixture marinate for at least an hour (or ideally overnight) before serving. 

Mushroom risotto

Close up of a bowl of Mushroom Risotto garnished with fresh herbs, on a table set for a lingering lunch

Earthy mushrooms and creamy risotto balance the Negroni’s bitterness, making each sip and bite more enjoyable. 

Ingredients 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 cup Arborio rice 
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, warmed 
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (cremini or shiitake work well) 
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Method 

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the Arborio rice and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Gradually add the warm vegetable broth, one ladle at a time, stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is creamy and tender, about 18-20 minutes. 
  4. In a separate pan, sauté the sliced mushrooms until browned and tender, then stir them into the risotto. 
  5. Stir in the fresh parsley, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

There you have it – a quick introduction to vermouth, top tips on choosing the best vermouth for a Negroni, a tasty variety of Negroni variations to try at home, and some food pairings to round it all off! Sign up for our newsletter to get delicious hosting inspiration delivered straight to your inbox and remember to tag us when you share pictures of your Negroni on Instagram. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

To stir up the perfect Negroni, opt for sweet vermouth. Its rich, balanced flavors complement the gin and Campari beautifully. Cinzano Rosso is an excellent choice, offering a smooth, aromatic profile that elevates the cocktail. Sweet vermouth brings the right amount of sweetness and complexity, balancing your Negroni to perfection.

Using dry vermouth in a Negroni isn't quite traditional and will result in a rather different flavor profile. The Negroni template benefits from the sweetness and complexity of sweet vermouth, like Cinzano Rosso. Dry vermouth typically lacks the depth and richness needed to adequately balance the gin and Campari. Stick with sweet vermouth to ensure your Negroni has the traditional harmony of flavors.

Once opened, store vermouth in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness and flavor. Make sure to seal it tightly with its original cap. Vermouth is a fortified wine and can oxidize quickly, so refrigeration slows down this process. Use within a month or two for optimal taste. Brands like Cinzano stay vibrant longer when properly stored, ensuring your Negroni is always top-notch.

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