Thursday, September 01, 2005

Inaugural Post: The Negroni

1/3 Gin
1/3 Campari
1/3 Sweet Vermouth
orange or lemon twist

Hands down, my favorite cocktail. Sweet, bitter, herbacious and intoxicating. What more could you want?

Unfortunately, in these here United States, it is not a well-known liquid refreshment. Go to Florence, however, and it's so popular that it's one of only two cocktail choices at the Medici Museum Cafe. (That's right. Museums with cocktails. Do they know how to live, or what?)

The history of this drink is muddled (did I mention that the drink is quite intoxicating?). Most accounts agree that it was invented near the turn of the last century in Gasparo Campari's very own bar. (Yes _the_ Campari). It was inspired by a local lush named Camillo Negroni who ordered one every day from Gasparo.

Americans, escaping prohibition in the 20s and 30s, found the Negroni in Italy. They ordered it in such quantities that, for a time, it became known as an Americano. (Such irony. Like steak tartar being called steak americaine in France. You realize that steak tartare is raw chopped up steak with a raw egg on it, right?).

The Negroni jumped the puddle and enjoyed a flash of popularity in gin-joints and speakeasies from NY to LA. I imagine that bitter herbs and fruit lent spice to many a Walter Winchell commentary. Sadly, the martini looks better in black and white otherwise the Negroni would have been enshrined by the Thin Man and well-known to cocktail enthusiasts today.

Instead, it is all but forgotten outside of Europe. Though Campari sales are fairly strong in the US, it is hard to find a bartender stateside who knows how to concoct a proper negroni. The treasured few true mixologists will please forgive my generalizations- as they are formed from my own experience. The other day a confident bartender mixed me a negroni with 7-up. Egad. So be brave, my fellow lushes. Order the drink, share the magical proportions and spread the love.