Negroni

Negroni cocktail in an Old Fashioned glass

Stir ingredients with ice and either strain into a chilled cocktail glass or alternatively serve over a large ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist or an orange wheel.

"The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other." Orson Welles.

"all Gaul was divided into three parts: one part gin, one part vermouth and one part Italian bitters." Nina Wilcox Putnam.

Forget the Martini, the Negroni is the King of Cocktails. Even James Bond drank a Negroni when he tired of Martinis, and make no mistake—it's stirred and never shaken.

The Negroni was created around 1919 at the Café Casoni in Florence, Italy, when Count Camillo Negroni took to stiffening his Americano with a little gin. The drink was mentioned in a letter in 1920 and then disappears from view until Italy emerges from the Second World War and the drink acquires cosmoplitan associations.

The Negroni is my favorite of the Aromatic style of cocktails. The bitterness of the Campari melds perfectly with the sweetness of the vermouth. Originally the recipe was equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari but I find that to be too sweet. The recipe above is from The New Cocktail Hour. If you replace the gin with bourbon you get a cocktail called the Boulevardier. I've tried it a few times but bourbon just doesn't seem right—it's hard to improve upon perfection.

Negroni D'Or

Stir with ice and strain into a Nick & Nora glass.

This variation was created by Brian MacGregor of San Francisco for a competition in 2010. It swaps out the Campari Bitters for the gentler Gran Classico Bitters. With the softer bitters the vermouth is also toned down and using sweet white vermouth instead of the more robust Italian vermouth allows the beautiful gold color of the bitters to shine through. In this sense it is similar to the Bijou with the pale green of the Charteuse replaced by the orange/gold of the Gran Classico. It will not displace the classic Negroni from my top shelf but it does make for a pleasant variation.