The Negroni is one of the world’s most famous cocktails. Few can claim the level of timeless appeal that the Negroni offers. This quintessential Italian aperitivo or ‘pre-dinner drink’ - scarlet red in colour and a delicate balance of only three ingredients - is a sophisticated, classic cocktail of equal parts Gin, Sweet Vermouth and Campari.
Originating in Italy in the early 20th century, this iconic drink has become a staple for many, revered by bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts alike, this crimson liquid has its own dedicated global fundraising week and we’re here to help you understand why. We’ll break down the drink’s history and ingredients, and help you to craft the perfect Negroni.
The Negroni – a brief history
Shrouded in mystery, just like the origin of many other timeless cocktails, where and how the recipe was first invented is hotly debated. What we do know, is that the remarkable story most possibly began in the early 1900’s at Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy. Legend has it, that a Count Camillo Negroni invented the drink when he asked his bartender Forsco Scarselli, to strengthen his Americano cocktail with gin instead of soda water. To distinguish the new drink, Scarselli added an orange garnish instead of traditional lemon and the drink was born. It proved to be so popular that the Negroni family took advantage of this early success, and in 1919 established a distillery in Treviso, manufacturing a ready-made version of the drink which they called Antico Negroni. The distillery still exists today.
What makes a Negroni so special?
The beauty of the Negroni is in its bitter-sweet simplicity. Definitely an acquired taste, this is a bitter, herbaceous cocktail, zesty and juniper-forward yet beautifully balanced out by the sweet vermouth and a twist of orange. Simple to make, yet complex in flavour, this is not a cocktail for beginners. When we think of a Negroni, we think of seemingly effortless elegance and sophistication.
And versatile. Formerly an insider’s drink, made for those ‘in the know,’ now an ultra-cool tipple, the simple formula also proves to be incredibly versatile. While the classic Negroni remains iconic, mixologists now have their own variations and re-interpretations, crafting new, exciting flavour profiles.
Crafting the perfect NegroniSome say that crafting the perfect negroni is an art form, a ritual in itself. The balance of only 3 ingredients in equal measurements, the careful stirring, and placement of the all-important orange garnish creates an experience beyond just a drink. To make a classic Negroni follow these steps:
- 30ml Gin
- 30ml Campari
- 30ml Sweet Vermouth
- Orange peel or twist for garnish
- Prepare your glass. Start by chilling an Old Fashioned (or Rocks) glass. Fill with ice and let it sit for a minute or two. Empty out ice.
- Pour Gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth into a mixing glass.
- Add ice. Make sure you have enough. The more ice you use, the cooler it will be and the less it will dilute the drink.
- Stir the mixture 30-40 times with a bar spoon, until it’s thoroughly chilled. Build it…do not shake it!
- Strain into Old Fashioned glass over large cube of ice.
- Garnish with fresh orange twist.
What kind of gin to use in a Negroni?
Pick a dry, light-bodied and aromatic juniper-led gin that will stand up to the strong flavours of the bitter components. Choose your favourite gin, or choose your favourite Negroni style and select a gin to match. Have a look at our contemporary Australian gins to suit a wide variety of Negroni styles.
For a Negroni without Campari, there are a whole host of smaller, artisanal makers of bitter digestives for a local, Aussie negroni. Using an Amaro instead of Campari adds a different style of bitterness and botanicals and can enliven the herbaceous depth of some gins.
Best vermouth? Is there one? I hear you ask. There are some well-known options available, however there are also some premium, artisanal vermouths available that can really individualise your drink. Keep in mind that vermouth only lasts about 3 months once opened, so make sure you have a new bottle.
Variations on the classic Negroni:
- Negroni Sbagliato: Italian for ‘mistaken’, this Negroni substitutes gin with sparkling wine for a lighter, bubbly version.
- Boulevardier: Swap bourbon for the gin for a richer, spicier take on the classic.
- White Negroni: replace Campari with a liqueur such as Suze and use Lillet Blanc instead of sweet vermouth for a lighter, herbaceous twist.
Bass & Flinders Distillery Negroni cocktail recipes:
Here at Bass & Flinders Distillery our premium, small-batch spirits transform the art of crafting cocktails. Whether you're a seasoned Negroni enthusiast or new to the world of cocktails our recipes will inspire your taste buds and elevate your mixology skills. Explore the unique flavours and sophistication of truly Australian craft spirits, harmoniously blending tradition and innovation in some of our signature Negroni recipes:
A ‘wild & spicy’ twist on a Classic Negroni with our Gin 10. The perfect balance of sweet, floral and savoury flavours with a twist of orange. This iconic cocktail is best served stirred, not shaken.
30ml Bass & Flinders Gin 10 - Wild & Spicy
30ml Maidenii Sweet Vermouth
30ml Okar Bitter Amaro
Add all ingredients to mixing glass and fill with ice.
Stir 30 times and strain over large ice cube in an Old Fashioned cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh orange twist.
Slightly sweet modern classic cocktail with a soft mouthfeel, seamlessly melds with the creamy and spicy Angry Ant gin and just a fresh hint of citrus. A beautifully floral, aromatic simple-to-make cocktail.
30ml Bass & Flinders Angry Ant Gin
30ml Maidenii Classic Vermouth
30ml Lillet Blanc
Add all ingredients including Bass & Flinders Angry Ant Gin to mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir 30 times to mix through.
Double strain into chilled old fashioned glass over large cube of ice.
Garnish with fresh lemon twist and lightly torched rosemary sprig.
Our take on the classic Negroni using a combination of sweet & spicy Heartbreak Pinot Noir Gin, with the velvet-like texture of smooth sherry. Layered with crisp, nutty highlights and a refreshing twist of lemon.
30ml Bass & Flinders Heartbreak Pinot Noir Gin
15ml of sherry
15ml of white wine (preferably a pinot gris for the fruity flavour)
20ml of lemon juice
Pour ingredients including Heartbreak Pinot Noir Gin into a large tumbler over ice. Stir, strain over large ice cube in Old Fashioned glass. Serve with slice of orange or sage.
In the world of cocktails, the Negroni is a timeless masterpiece, an elixir that transcends trends and epitomises the essence of mixology. It strikes the perfect balance between three simple ingredients, and with its bright crimson hue and complex flavours is a testament to the art of mixology. One of the most iconic cocktails of all time. A symbol of sophistication and refined taste for those who are hungry for a little glamour. Cheers to the Negroni - a timeless icon of cocktail perfection!
Check out more delicious Bass & Flinders Distillery gin cocktail recipes!