The History of the Negroni
A traditional Italian aperitivo – the Negroni – has long been one of my favorite cocktails. Its distinctive ingredient is Campari, a bitter liqueur made with a closely-guarded formula (since 1860) of alcohol infused with fruit and herbs, which also gives the Negroni its beautiful garnet-red color. The most popular story of this cocktail’s origin dates to the early 1900s and involves a Count Camillo Negroni. Lore has it that the Count, a regular at Caffè Cassoni in Florence, Italy, asked bartender Fosco Scarcelli to bolster his Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda) with gin instead of soda. With three simple ingredients, a new libation was born. The classic proportions are equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Garnishing with an orange slice or twist underlines the bitter orange component of Campari. A refreshing Negroni, served over ice or straight up, is my pre-dinner drink of choice, a perfect aperitivo or “palate opener” before a splendid Italian feast, or any time.