The origins of the Negroni cocktail recipe
When the esteemed Count Camillo Negroni walked into Scarselli’s bar he had no idea that he was about to make history. The story goes that while the Count was in America, he worked as a rodeo cowboy and developed a taste for strong liquor. (And who wouldn’t! Hee-ha!) He asked for a more potent version of his favorite cocktail: the Americano. For those who don’t know, this classic drink is made with equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth poured over ice and topped with soda.
Scarselli replaced the soda with gin and added an orange peel garnish for extra zest. The result was a bittersweet and herbaceous cocktail. The Count fell in love with the Negroni, and so did the rest of the world.
How to make a Negroni
The Negroni is an acquired taste — sophisticated, complex, and very grown up. It’s extremely easy to make, so if you’re a cocktail novice on your first rodeo, don’t worry. The Negroni drink recipe is pretty hard to mess up! And if you’re looking for more Italian cocktail inspiration, check out our Limoncello Martini and Italian Job cocktails. Cin-cin!
What does the Negroni taste like?
Negroni cocktail ingredients make for bittersweet herbaceous cocktails with lingering dark fruit flavors after every sip. Because you’re only using three ingredients, it’s super important that you use good-quality liquor. Other than the gin, you’re going to need vermouth and Campari. The vermouth we chose for our Negroni cocktail recipe is Cinzano Rosso. It’s smooth and slightly sweet with bitter spices and has a lovely botanical finish. The Campari brings a whole other vibrant level to this Italian party with its multi-layered bitter finish. It will never be a Negroni without it.
If you’re a fan of bitter cocktails, learn all about them.
What gin is best for a Negroni?
With only three Negroni cocktail ingredients, there’s no room to hide bad-quality gin. The better the gin you’re using, the more delicious and drinkable the cocktail will be. It’s a simple rule to always keep in mind when making cocktails that only use a few ingredients. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
But back to the gin, which can make or break this iconic drink. For our Negroni, we wanted something that would stand up to the strength of Campari without getting lost in this Italian translation. To get the job done we chose Bulldog Gin. Made with a variety of 12 different botanicals it will shine through, giving your Negroni cocktail recipe a smooth and balanced finish. Don’t take our word for it though – try it for yourself.
Food to serve with Negroni
The bitterness in the Negroni cocktail recipe ingredients means the food you pair with it has got to have some bold flavors. As the Negroni is an aperitif served before dinner, we suggest serving up some salty canapés and classic bruschetta using ingredients like smoked salmon, tomatoes, chorizo, and cream cheese. For a lovely balance of sweet and salty, serve dates wrapped in crispy bacon, and if you want to take it one step further, pair your Negroni with salted dark chocolate. Yum! For a more casual affair, a platter filled with strong cheeses and Italian cured meats will do the trick.
Variations of the classic Negroni
While we’re obsessed with the classic, we always make room for some fun variations for any cocktail. Here are a few of the most exciting ones trending all over the Negroni scene.
To Italianos, sbagliato means a mistake but we definitely don’t think this cocktail should be classed as one. If you adore cocktails with Prosecco, you’ve got to try the Negroni Sbagliatio, which recently got some amazing airtime on TikTok thanks to a candid promo chat between two of the stars of the new Game of Thrones spin-off, House of Dragons.
The ‘broken’ sidekick of the traditional Negroni, this sparkly cocktail follows the same drinks format for the first two ingredients but then strays off course to become something deliciously different. Where the original calls for Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin, the sparkly version combines 1.5 oz Campari, 1.5 oz sweet vermouth, and 1.5 oz Prosecco.
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Mezcal is big right now! This Negroni has a smoky twist and is named after the largest producing region of this popular Mexican spirit.
Best served during summer, the Negroni Tropicale shot to fame over the last two years and is part of the Aperitiki trend (tiki drinks mixed with Italy’s iconic bitter flavors). Take your Negroni on a tropical holiday by replacing the gin with white rum and adding a splash of pineapple juice and other delicious tropical notes.
This Negroni cocktail recipe is something truly special. One ounce Campari and sweet vermouth mixed with 1 ¼ ounces bourbon come together to create a beautifully boozy drink that’s sweet, rich, bitter—and very rewarding.
A Coffee Negroni recipe leaves out the Campari and replaces it with the same amount of cold-brew coffee for a little caffeine kick.
This Negroni drink recipe swaps out the gin for a spicy rye whiskey, and replaces the sweet vermouth with Cinzano Vermouth Extra Dry. Add Campari to the mix and you have a cocktail that’s spicy, dry, and bitter with lovely notes of rye whiskey.
For more Italian cocktail inspiration, check out our top recipes.