The Bartender Re-education Plan took a break but now that the holidays are pretty much over, so are the excuses. You must make 1,000 Negronis before you ever change the 1:1:1 ratio. Changing the ratios changes the recipe. Using dry vermouth instead of sweet is not a Negroni. Using some amaro other than Campari is not a Negroni. And subbing out gin, really makes it not a Negroni. The path to being a better bartender is understanding the brands and techniques of the Negroni, not in changing the ratios. I want my Negronis always in equal parts, yet I always want them balanced, this can be achieved but understanding flavor. There are 2 ways for a Negroni to be made: stirred and up or stirred and strained over fresh ice.
How do you make these 2.5 styles?
- AmericanO- In the beginning (before the Negroni) there was an Americano Highball. This is sweet vermouth, Campari and soda. It is the perfect pre meal cocktail that never was. The Americano Highball can only be ordered from good bartenders, however you normally want to order something better from good bartenders. It is said the Negroni was invented when Count Camillo Negroni wanted his Americano Highball with gin instead of soda. That substitution is for winners.
- European- Rocks. The Euro-Negroni is on the rocks, if chianti or lasagna is on the menu expect a Negroni or the rocks. But TWIST! This Negroni is often shit! Why? because you can’t pour 3 oz of room temp booze over ice to get a good cocktail. The ice with immediately begin to melt, thus producing a watery, and warm cocktail. You must stir and strain an ICE COLD cocktail over fresh ice, pouring cold over cold maintains the proper balance in the cocktail.
- American- It has been the general consensus in American bartending that every drink is better chilled and served up. That is the way of the American Negroni. But I feel that an exception to this rule arises in drinks that are sweeter, with a high sugar content. Those drinks (Negroni included) are awful when they warm up and they live longer on ice. Other examples of sticky drinks that seem to do better on ice would be the Rusty Nail, The Godfather or other all spirit fern bar, “classics.”
What is the technique needed?
- Stirred- a Negroni is stirred and strained into a chilled glass or over fresh ice. To shake a Negroni is to have thick sliced truffles, under cooked foie gras or burlap lingerie; don’t ruin luxuary
- Zest- The orange zest is the 4th ingredient. Campari and vermouth don’t have a strong scent; gin does, but not when paired with these 2 sweet bottles. The orange zested over the cocktail treats your nose to the cocktail.
What are the other variables?
- Gin- There are 3 legal definitions of gin, arguably 6 or 7 styles (not including genever) and over 100 brands on the market in America with a new one made by a micro-distiller every week. What I’m saying: pair your gin with your vermouth. More subtle gins need more subtle vermouths. Larger, earthier or more herbal gins can stand up to the big very sweet vermouths.
- Vermouth- Without brand bashing, some gins would be completely un-recognizable as gins when paired with too flavorful of a vermouth. In addition to which, the Negroni is a drink that must be treated like a cocktail that has a fresh product in it: vermouth. Vermouth left out at room temperature goes bad like milk and I don’t see a sour cream White Russian catching on anytime soon. No amount of technique and no price point of boutique gin can save a Negroni from bad vermouth.
What does it mean to get, “Negronked?”
Getting Negronked is term for a lexical gap I have found in the English Language for, “getting drunk on fancy drinks.” I coined this one about 5 years ago and it has been an uphill battle. But I implore you, next time you go out to hit the fancy bars, remember, “get Negronked!”
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1 oz Campari
- Stir and strain over fresh ice or into a chilled cocktail class
- Garnish with an orange zest
After all of that, of course you can change the ratios. But it is the last thing to practice in Negroni crafting, you need to understand the rules before you break them.