We are in the midst of Negroni Week, an effort pioneered by Campari and Imbibe Magazine that celebrates a classic cocktail known as the Negroni. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year, because for an ENTIRE week bars all over the country focus on serving, educating about, and creating tasty variations of the Negroni cocktail. Even more important, every participating bar donates one dollar of every Negroni sold to a charity of their choice. Bitter cocktails, good causes, and homage to a drink that dates back to around 1920….what could be more fun than that to a whiskey loving wine woman?
I recently attended an all day spirits seminar in Atlanta put on by Anchor Distilling Company, and had the fortune of meeting John Troia of Tempus Fugit Spirits. John brought up some amazing points about the history of spirits that are often seen as modifiers or secondary ingredients: Vermouths, Quinas, Chinatos, Amaros, and Apertifs. I have always had an affinity for these often overlooked categories, perhaps because many of them tie into wine, and more importantly because they are all part of a culture that focuses on food. While America is going through a fairly recent love affair with Whiskey (we are The Whiskey Women after all), these spirits have stories that span back hundreds of years and cross cultural boundaries.
Campari certainly falls into that category of history rich, perfect for food spirits that many bartenders across the world use on a regular basis. If you care to dig more into the history of Campari and the Negroni cocktail, an Italian Author Luca Pichhi, long time member of the Italian Bartenders Association, wrote a book published in 2006 “Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni.” Luckily it’s currently being translated and republished for those of us who haven’t mastered Italian just quite yet.
Pichhi has been credited by Imbibe Magazine as confirming the “mystery history” of the Negroni cocktail as a creation of the Count Camillo Negroni, born in 1868. The Count stops into one of his favorite bars some time around 1919-1920, and asks the bartender for something with a bit more kick than an Americano (historically Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and soda). Gin is substituted for soda, and soon everyone is asking for an Americano the “Negroni” way. Fast forward to today and negroniweek.com sites 3,530 bars participating in Negroni Week. How incredible is that?
For your enjoyment this week, I present you with a “Negroni Sbagliato”, literally translating to “wrong Negroni” originating in 1972 from Milan’s Bar Basso. It’s a thirst quenching, get-you-ready for an amazing meal kind of drink. And of course it’s topped with sparkling wine, which you can never go wrong with, in my humble opinion.
However, with carrying on the spirit of Negroni Week, we at The Whiskey Women urge you to go out and visit your local watering hole and see what kind of Negorni riffs they have to offer (they may even have a Boulevardier as an option, if you’re lucky). At least a dollar from every drink sold will go to the charity of the bar’s choosing. Drinking for a cause, what could be better than that?!
1oz Tempus Fugit Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso (or another high quality vermouth. Don’t skimp out here- your ingredients matter!)
Sparkling wine, preferably a dryer Prosecco
Add Campari and Vermouth to ice, stir, strain onto new ice in an old fashioned glass. Top with Prosecco, and orange peel expression.