This bitter, sweet, and smooth drink has inspired countless variations as well as legions of diehard aficionados. In The Negroni, Gary Regan — barman extraordinaire and author of the iconic book The Joy of Mixology — delves into the drink’s fun, fascinating history (its origin story is still debated, with battling Italian noblemen laying claim) and provides techniques for modern updates (barrel aging and carbonation among them). Sixty delightfully varied and uniformly tasty recipes round out this spirited collection, which is a must-have for any true cocktail enthusiast.
Reprinted from The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita, with Recipes & Lore © 2013, 2015 by Gary Regan. Photographs © 2015 by Kelly Puleio. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Morgan Schick, Trick Dog, San Francisco
While this cocktail sounds like the invention of a stoned teenager in his parents’ basement, in fact it’s a deliciously savory, wonderfully refined drink. The Tomato Water recipe makes a little less than 2 cups.
- 1 ounce Aviation Gin Infused with Mozzarella and Parmesan (recipe follows)
- 1 ounce Martini & Rossi Gran Lusso vermouth
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1⁄2 ounce Tomato Water (recipe follows)
- Lemon twist
- Garnish: 1 olive and 1 slice salami
Stir all the ingredients with ice in a mixing glass for about half as long as you would normally, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze the lemon twist over the drink, then discard. Skewer the olive and salami slice with a cocktail pick, garnish, and serve.
Aviation Gin Infused with Mozzarella and Parmesan
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, roughly chopped
- 2 ounces rind from parmesan cheese, roughly chopped
- 1 (750 ml) bottle Aviation gin
Combine the mozzarella, parmesan, and gin in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Seal the jar and shake gently. Let infuse for 5 to 7 days. Discard the solids, then freeze for 24 hours. Strain once more through a coffee filter to remove any solidified fat.
- 1 1⁄2 pounds ripe tomatoes
- Large pinch of salt
Line a sieve with cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, then place in the lined sieve and sprinkle with salt. Cover and chill for at least 12 hours, then discard the solids and use the tomato water as directed.
Phil Ward, Mayahuel, New York City
Cocktail genius Phil Ward didn’t pull any punches when he described this drink’s origins: “I was hungover and drinking Campari and soda while doing my chores at the bar. I was mulling cider and putting in the star anise just as I took a sip of Campari. I was like, Wow, could those two tyrants actually coexist? I tried it. They did.”
- 1 1/2 ounces El Tesoro blanco tequila
- 1 ounce Carpano Antica Formula
- 1 ounce Campari Infused with Star Anise (recipe follows)
Stir all the ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Campari Infused with Star Anise
- 20 star anise pods
- 1 (750 ml) bottle Campari
Combine the star anise and Campari in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Seal the jar and shake gently. Let infuse for about 8 hours or overnight. Strain through a double layer of dampened cheesecloth.
PARSON’S NEGRONI SLUSHY
Charlie Schott, bar manager and principle bartender, Parson’s Chicken and Fish, Chicago
Charlie kindly adjusted Parson’s recipe for this slushy, figuring that you probably don’t have a slushy machine. The recipe here works well in a blender. Or, if you have an ice cream machine, add around 4 1/2 ounces of water for the best results. The Luxardo Bitter, by the way, brings a nice ripe cherry note to the potion.
Makes 2 or 3 servings:
- 2 ounces Letherbee gin
- 2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 2 ounces Luxardo Bitter
- 2 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups crushed ice
- Garnish: frozen orange half wheels
Put all the ingredients in a blender and process at high speed, stopping occasionally to stir the ingredients together. Continue blending at high speed, adding more crushed ice to achieve the desired consistency. Serve garnished with the frozen orange half wheels.
Jake Godby, chef and owner, Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, San Francisco
What could be more refreshing than walking around on a hot summer’s day with one of these to keep your mouth watering, huh?
Makes about 12 popsicles, depending on the size of your mold:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup gin
- 1/4 cup sweet vermouth
- 1/4 cup Campari
- 2 1/2 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice
- Pinch of salt
Combine the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Let cool to room temperature, then pour into ice-pop molds and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Read more about The Negroni photographer Kelly Puleio in Cari Borja’s EDF piece “Cocktails and Love.”
Gary Regan writes The Cocktailian, a biweekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle. His work has been featured in magazines such as Food Arts, Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits, and Imbibe, among others. He is the author of The Bartender’s Bible, The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys, The Bourbon Companion, New Classic Cocktails, The Martini Companion, and The Joy of Mixology.