It’s an understatement to say we’re interested in cocktail culture. We live and breathe it. Every spirit we distill is a continuous pursuit of quality. Our Hidden Temple Gin and Top Secret Gin are no exception. A world class favourite loved by connoisseurs of cocktail culture, the Negroni is a prime example of how quality ingredients can create a delightfully delicious drink. Rooted in Italian heritage, the Negroni is a true taste of the renaissance era. The drink has found its own spotlight in mixology, but was traditionally served as an aperitif.
What is an Aperitif?
Derived from the latin verb ‘aperire’ meaning ‘to open’, aperitifs are a European custom of serving a drink before dinner that stimulates the appetite. As far as Negronis go, the refreshing combination of citrusy, sweet, and bitter flavours make it the perfectly balanced drink to help you slow down from the day as you settle in to savour your dining experience.
History of the Negroni
The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence has been the birthplace of things like Gucci, Opera, and Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s a city that’s accustomed to the finer things, and the Negroni is no exception. Part of the magic around a drink with such history is that it’s filled with controversy on where it actually originated. There’s a constant back and forth as to whether or not the foundation of this drink started in Italy or France.
The popular story goes that back in the 1860’s a cocktail called the Milano-Torino (also known as the Mi-To) was developed at Caffe Camparino in Milan, Italy. The Milano-Torino was made with equal parts Campari and Sweet Vermouth. Many Americans visiting Milan at the time didn’t quite have the palate to enjoy and appreciate such concentrated flavours. So when they ordered the local beverage of choice, they would ask for it with a splash of soda water. Thus, the ‘Americano’ cocktail was born. Some mixologists however believe that the Milano-Torino already contained soda water and the cocktail was renamed to Americano simply because American patrons liked it so much.
Fast forward to London around 1919, and we find a prestigious fellow by the name of Count Camillo Negroni who was a frequent visitor at the Cosoni Bar in Florence, Italy. Legend has it that one day he asked bartender Fosco Scarselli to make him an Americano cocktail with a bit more of a kick. The bartender substituted the soda water for gin and the combination quickly became Count’s favourite drink. The fruity, floral, and juniper notes of the gin were naturally a more sophisticated pairing to the Campari and Vermouth. Playing to these sweet citrus notes, Fosco also swapped the Americano’s lemon garnish for the mellower flavour of an orange slice. Other bar patrons picked up on this and before long started asking the bartender for “one of Count Negroni’s drinks”. In turn, this quickly became known simply as the Negroni cocktail. Count sought to ensure his love for the drink (as well as his legacy) was preserved by opening the Negroni distillery in Treviso a short time later. Since the appreciation for this stupendous sippable never died, that same distillery still exists today.
There is however evidence, pointed out by Colonel Hector Andres Negroni, that a Count Camillo Negroni does not exist in the Negroni family genealogy, which dates back to the 11th century. He believes that the real inventor of the Negroni was a Frenchman, General Pascal Oliver Comte de Negroni, who fought in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
While we may never find out the real story of the Negroni, there is no question that this drink has earned a well-deserved spot amongst the top classic cocktails of our time.
Negroni Cocktail Recipe: How To Make A Modern Day Negroni
Over time, the Negroni has evolved from aperitif to beloved cocktail of choice amongst many. Its reach has extended far outside of Italy. To bring a taste of it to your home and serve up the same drink that the Count and Farsco enjoyed for the very first time over 100 years ago, all you need are 4 simple ingredients. As with any drink that relies on simplicity, the quality of your components is truly the key. We like to make our Negroni with the following ingredients:
- 2/3 ounces Hidden Temple or Top Secret Gin
- 2/3 ounces Campari
- 2/3 ounces Sweet Vermouth
- Slice or peel of fresh orange
For the full experience, skip the shaker. Instead, follow the tradition of crafting this in the glass and stir to mix. Stirring instead of shaking allows each element to shine through, hitting your tastebuds in different ways as the drink develops over time in your glass.
To make it, start with your rocks glass and some ice. The ice helps soften some of the intensity the drink may otherwise have without it by keeping it chilled. Next you’ll want to add in your Gin, Campari, and Vermouth. If you want a delicious, quality gin, and find yourself in favour of a good Gin & Tonic, you’ll want the classic taste of our Top Secret Gin. However, if you want to help the Italian heritage of the Negroni explore botanicals reminiscent of the great Canadian wilderness, our Hidden Temple Gin should be perfect for you.
Give everything a stir to ensure it’s mixed, and then garnish. Keep it classic with an orange slice, or add some modern flair with a twist of orange peel after rimming the glass.
How to Best Enjoy a Negroni
This Negroni is a great cocktail to surprise your guests at a house party or on a warm summer day during a casual hangout with friends, and is easy to whip up on a whim since it’s only 4 ingredients. Although this is a drink that comes with a lot of history, part of what makes cocktails and mixology so much fun is that you can tailor it to what you like. So play with the quantities and develop your own signature house Negroni!
You can find our gins mentioned above at our shop, alongside our range of other spirits and cocktail kits. We’re lovers of quality, mixology, and attention to detail. So everything we distill is something we’re proud to use in our own drinks. If you ever want to talk cocktails or enjoy some craft spirits, stop by the distillery for a tour. You’re always welcome at Nickel 9! After all, great cocktails are best enjoyed in great company.