Selecting the Best Gin for a Negroni

OLD CLASSIC TO A NEW FAVOURITE

Written by Tom Hyatt

Considered one of the infamous classics alongside the Martini and Manhattan, the Negroni has become one of the godfathers of cocktail. By mixing equal parts gin, bitters and sweet vermouth, then stirring over ice with an orange slice garnish, you get a simple, highly sophisticated cocktail. The result is a bitter yet sweet, dry yet refreshing drink, revered by many. 

Like the Martini, the origins of the Negroni are open to debate. Collective reports, however, all point to Florence, Italy and the Café Casoni in 1919. One day Count Camillo Negroni wanted a stronger kick to his usual Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water). His bartender proceeded to exchange the soda water for gin and then to signify that it was a different drink, replaced the lemon with an orange garnish. 

In the same year, the Negroni family founded the Negroni Distillery in Treviso, Italy, where they produced the Antico Negroni – a ready-made version of the classic cocktail – further strengthening the origin story. And so the popular Italian aperitif was born! 

While the taste may not be for everyone at first, there are a multitude of ways to adapt it to your liking. Swapping some of the bitters for more gin reduces the tanginess while using bourbon or rye creates the equally impressive Boulevardier. You can even experiment with the type of vermouth or bitter liqueur, not to mention the plethora of gins you can try. It’s no wonder Wolf Lane decided to create their own, unique Negroni. By using their Davidson Plum Gin as the base spirit, they’ve created a sweeter version of the classic. 

It is fair to say I am a personal fan of the drink! If you need further convincing on its merits, each year during “Negroni Week”, the Negroni becomes a philanthropic drink, helping to raise money for charitable causes. It’s fair to say that few cocktails in the world have left their mark quite like the Negroni. 

Saluti! 

HOW TO MAKE A CLASSIC NEGRONI

- 1 part Gin

- 1 part Bitter Liqueur (Campari or other Aperitif)

- 1 part Sweet/Rosso Vermouth

- Fresh orange to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice. Stir until well chilled, strain into a fresh chilled glass with a chunky ice cube. Express an orange peel over the cocktail, garnish and enjoy.

See also: Gingin white negroni recipe

TIPS WHEN CHOOSING A GIN

When considering which gin to use, it doesn't hurt to start with your favourite! As you sip, consider the balance of the cocktail and how you want to tip the scales for your pefect pour.

Selecting a London Dry style gin will counter the bittersweet sharpness of the Campari.

On the other hand, a citrus-forward Contemporary gin will tip further towards the sweeter side of the palate and dampen the earthiness of the vermouth.

If you want your knock-off to truly knock your socks off, then a Navy Strength gin will be a good candidate.

Some distilleries now offer their own pre-mixed negroni cocktails, or negroni-style gins with an extra spicy oomph to cut through the Campari.

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