The Negroni—that beautiful, bittersweet, reddish cocktail invented in Italy nearly a century ago—keeps winning more and more converts. And that means one thing: Bartenders can't resist the urge to tweak its classic combo of gin, vermouth and Campari. Lately, those spins are taking some decidedly original, and totally irresistible, new directions, involving everything from Cocoa Puffs to coffee. Here are seven spins on a Negroni you'll want to try asap, plus a recipe so you can test-drive one this weekend.
Where: Wildhawk, San Francisco
What: Gin, Cocoa Puffs cereal-infused vermouth, Campari, chocolate salt bitters.
How: The Cocoa Puffs give this Breakfast Negroni its "toasted rice undertones with subtle chocolate notes," says beverage director Jacques Bezuidenhout. He adds, "We enhance the chocolate profile with our homemade chocolate salt bitters, and to play up the cereal aspect we serve it in a mini cereal bowl and garnish it with decorative orange charms." It's magically delicious. Photo by Wendy Suh.
Where: Bound by Salvatore at the Cromwell Hotel, Las Vegas
What: Vermouth-flavored espresso, gin, Campari.
How: Award-winning bartender Salvatore Calabrese’s namesake lounge combines a classic Negroni cocktail with Italian Moka coffee. The coffee, brewed with vermouth instead of water, gets stirred with gin, Campari and simple syrup before being served in an Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube and an orange twist. Photo courtesy of Bound by Salvatore.
Chardonnay Stalk White Negroni
Where: Trifecta Tavern, Portland
What: Gin, bitter French apéritif, vermouth, lemon skin, infused charred Chardonnay stalk.
How: So, about that "infused charred Chardonnay stalk"...Here's how the Trifecta Tavern kitchen does it: Dried Chardonnay vine clippings get charred on a wood-fired grill, then shaken in a bag with vermouth, gin and bitters, and then infused via a sous-vide process at 150 degrees. As bar manager Colin Carroll explains, the staff is "using techniques usually reserved for food, and translating that to cocktails."Photo by Kayt Mathers.
Where: Alta Linea at The High Line Hotel, New York City
What: Campari, vermouth, gin, citrus slush.
How: "We start with a chilled rocks glass, add a bit of Campari to the bottom of the glass and fill with the cold slush," restaurateur and operator Joe Campanale tells The Feast. "The Campari swirls to the top of the glass and we garnish with a fresh orange wedge. It’s our most sought-after drink." Photo by Melissa Hom.
Where: Hakkasan, San Francisco
What: Organic gin, vermouth, Campari, smoke infusion.
How: The Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant gives the classic drink a posh upgrade, infusing the usual suspects of gin, vermouth and Campari in a decanter with orange-tinged smoke from orange-flavored, Cognac liqueur-soaked woodchips. Photo courtesy of Hakkasan.
Where: Quarter+Glory, D.C.
What: Mezcal reposado, Campari, sweet vermouth.
How: The D.C. bar makes this barrel-aged Negroni with mezcal, served on tap. “The inspiration behind the No Se is the first mezcal bar in Guatemala of the same name—a bar full of artists, poets, musicians and raconteurs," says chief creative officer Kenneth McCoy of Public House Collective, which owns the bar. Photo by Paul Wagtouicz.
Where: il Porcellino, Chicago
What: Jamaican rum, 12-year rum, vermouth, Campari.
How: Il Porcellino's roster of seasonal Negronis includes this twist, made with a duo of rums instead of gin. The drink is also turning out to be popular with "guests who don't traditionally drink rum," says beverage director Julian Cox. Photo by Jeff Marini.
Jamaican Negroni recipe:
¾ oz Smith and Cross rum
¾ oz Appleton 12-year rare blend rum
1 oz Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino
3/4 oz Campari
Stir all ingredients together until properly mixed, and then strain over ice. Garnish with orange twist.
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