Negroni: The Trendy Cocktail That's Been Around for 100 Years
As cocktail trends delve deeper and deeper into an appreciation of spirits with the knowledge of the history of bartending, the Negroni has resurfaced as a new favorite among enthusiasts and bartenders alike. It's likely by this time that you've seen a Negroni on the menu at one of your favorite hangouts, and there are plenty of reasons the nearly 100-year-old cocktail is making a comeback. Think of it like the gin drinker's Manhattan or a cousin to the martini -- this bitter, liquor-forward aperitif might take some getting used to, but if you're anything like us, you'll be hooked for life after two Negronis.
Heather Hoch You can get a Negroni on draft at The Gladly.
The Negroni is thought to have been first ordered in 1919 in Florence, Italy, by who other than the Count Negroni. As the story goes, the count waved over a server and requested a very popular cocktail at the time called the Americano. The Americano, a drink pretty much forgotten by bar-goers, is composed of Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda. However, the count wanted his with backbone after spending years as (no joke) a rodeo cowboy in the United States. He got his with an equal portion of gin to replace the club soda, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Though this Italian count might seem to be one of the coolest ever guys to hang out with, there's no way he had any idea what a sensation it would be nowadays. You can get them bottled at Liberty Market, aged in sea salt-cured barrels at Citizen R+D, and on a host of menus around town, including The Main Ingredient and Trattoria Bianco, although most bars should be able to mix one up regardless of if it has a place on the menu. Part of the reason for the Negroni resurgence is thought to be the elevated quality of gin being produced again. However, the equal parts of Campari and sweet vermouth mean there's more to it than just the gin.
Chris Hardin, a bartender at The Gladly, is a Negroni enthusiast proud to work on the bar's draft Negroni system. He says the interplay between sweet, bitter, sour and strong components make the complex cocktail a favorite in the scene due to a new appreciation for quality spirits, along with cocktail culture in general.
"People are getting back to actually wanting to taste the alcohol elements in a cocktail rather than just watering it down with sugar," he says. "It's more about quality than quantity now."
Though Hardin says it's difficult to get all three balanced perfectly, The Gladly's pre-batched, on-draft method ensures consistency. The mix includes Campari, Carpano Antica, Dolin Rouge, and Aviation gin, which Hardin says gives The Gladly's Negroni a less juniper-forward, more balanced flavor. However, new Negroni drinkers still often experience "growing pains" when trying it out for the first time as he puts it.