Hall of Fame cocktails: “It took a century, but the Negroni cocktail has finally become a sensation in the United States.”

Photo credit.

Negroni Week is June 24 – 30, 2019: “For one week every June, bar and restaurants mix classic Negronis and Negroni variations for a great cause.”

Learn more about Negroni Week here. It’s an idea co-sponsored by Campari, which is one-third of the Negroni.

1 oz Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet vermouth

The Campari story begins in the early 1860s, when a bartender-turned-caffe-proprietor named Gaspare Campari started inventing bottled cocktails in the cellar of his new establishment in Milan. He’d mix neutral alcohol with raspberry juice, vanilla, cocoa—whatever struck his fancy—and then sell his homemade libations upstairs. One day, he came up with something he called “Bitter all’Uso d’Holanda”—bitter [meaning a kind of bitter herbal drink] in the style of Holland—based on his notions about legendary Dutch cordials.

The recipe reportedly has not changed since that time: Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water, and an infusion flavored with oranges, rhubarb, and—I was told when I visited the main Campari bottling plant in Sesto S. Giovanni, a sterile industrial suburb ten miles north of Milan—ginseng, as well as a mixture of herbs. What herbs? Apparently, only one man in the world knows the answer to that question—the factory director. And he’s not telling. So great is the secrecy that some ingredients for Campari are reportedly shipped straight to the director’s office in plain brown wrappers.

To conclude, here is essential reading. You’ll be tested on June 23.

LA DOLCE VITA: How the Negroni Conquered America, by David Wondrich (Daily Beast)

It took a century, but the Negroni cocktail has finally become a sensation in the United States.

Until the cocktail revolution of the last 20-odd years, the Negroni was Patrick Stewart before Star Trek called.

The Italian-born mix of gin, vermouth and Campari had its fans, enjoyed the critics’ respect, and was well-known in the country of its birth, but it was far from a household name in America or the rest of the world. Now, of course, it is—like Sir Patrick himself—a global icon, and one of the most popular and beloved things in its field.

But the Negroni wouldn’t have been able to climb those last steps to the peak of Cocktail Olympus if it hadn’t been waiting right there at the bottom of the stairs, ready for its call. How it got to that stage is, I think, the most interesting and even illuminating part of its complex story, and it has not been well understood …