Perhaps not since its 1919 debut in Florence, Italy (though a few hotels in Lake Como also stake claim to its origin) has the Negroni been so popular. It’s progressed beyond classic cocktail bars and is now on menus around the world. There’s nothing wrong with a traditional Negroni, composed of one part gin, one part vermouth and one part Campari; however, based on gin choice and vermouth selection, there’s already subtle variation from bar to bar. Over Campari’s Negroni Week—a multi-venue event with proceeds going to charity—we had the opportunity to sample many variations and the following six stood out as the best of the best.
Bloomsbury White Negroni
While this cocktail doesn’t sport our favorite aperitif, it does delight the senses—by way of
Tanqueray‘s latest limited-edition gin: Bloomsbury. The gin’s recipe is based on one hailing from the 1880s and it is definitely juniper-forward. When balanced with Suze and Dolin Blanc Vermouth, the result is familiar enough to the Negroni, but a botanical-forward departure from expectations.
1 oz Tanqueray Bloomsbury
1 oz Suze
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
Combine ingredients and stir. Serve in a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Developed by the team at Boodles Gin, a fragrant London Dry that’s crisp enough for a martini but makes for a good fit in most gin cocktails, the Salted Negroni utilizes nuance to a powerful effect. A small pinch of sea salt lends the drink its name, but it’s grapefruit juice that partners with the gin’s citrus notes to balance with the Campari.
1½ oz Boodles Gin
¾ oz Sweet Vermouth
¾ oz Campari
1 oz grapefruit juice
2 oz soda water
Quickly shake gin, vermouth, Campari, grapefruit juice and a small pinch of sea salt. Strain in Collins glass over ice and soda water. Add another small pinch of sea salt and garnish with long grapefruit peel.
Found on the menu in the Lobby Bar of the brand new New York EDITION Hotel, this rich mixed drink replaces the gin component with Zacapa rum. And in fact, it takes its name from Zacapa’s Master Distiller Lorena Vasquez. Smoked Dolin (personally smoked in-house at the bar) ups the flavor profile, making it an altogether powerful, yet thoughtful sipper.
1½ oz Ron Zacapa 23 rum
¾ oz Campari
½ oz Smoked Dolin vermouth
¼ oz Ramazzotti Amaro
Assemble and garnish with a large orange twist that wraps around the entirety of the drink and peaks at the top of the glass.
While it might not seem so, tequila and Campari make for an ideal match. Created by Erick Castro of Boilermaker, the Royal Promise utilizes Espòlon in place of gin, to a magnetic effect. It’s spicy and complicated, regardless of the fact that there are only three ingredients. And we haven’t tried anything else quite like it.
1 oz Campari
½ oz Espòlon Tequila Blanco
1½ oz Lillet Rose
Stir with ice to chill and strain over a large cube in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
The NoMad hotel in NYC happens to sport one of the city’s most beautiful bars. There, we tried this particular Negroni variation, created by The NoMad’s Leo Robitschek, which lands the perfect balance of potency and detail-orientation. High-proof Wild Turkey Rye takes the place of gin and strawberry-infused Cinzano Bianco bursts with flavor. This is complicated to make at home, but definitely worth seeking out at the hotel’s bar scene.
¾ oz Campari
1 oz Wild Turkey Rye 101
1 oz Strawberry-infused Cinzano Bianco
½ oz Foro Amaro
1 tsp St. Germain
1 dash orange bitters
Stir with ice to chill and strain over a large cube in the absinthe-rinsed old fashioned glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist and a strawberry.
Truly a dessert drink, the Upward Float, developed by Pamela Wiznitzer of NYC’s Seamstress (which is definitely making the Upper East Side a drinks destination), takes a children’s classic to boozy heights. It’s creamy, rich and very fun—with Campari and Bulldog Gin supported by Cocchi Rosa. It’s playful and will match up nicely with a warm summer day.
¾ oz Campari
¾ oz Bulldog Gin
1 oz Cocchi Rosa
3-4 oz dry vanilla soda
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Build in the glass and top with ice cream and dry vanilla soda. Garnish with Campari syrup, orange peel and sprinkles if desired.
Bloomsbury White Negroni image by Mike Simard, Royal Promise, Stanny’s Negroni and Upward Float images courtesy of Campari, other images courtesy of respective brands