The classic Negroni recipe is one that packs a seriously alcoholic punch. This Italian cocktail is an unsubtle blend of three spirits and liqueurs; there’s Gin, Campari, and sweet Vermouth in this mix!
It’s all drink and no mixer, so you can expect the Negroni to be one fierce cocktail. It’s a heavyweight, that’s for sure, and you’ll need to be careful how many of these you mix at home in one night.
In this article, we’ll explain what a negroni is, and then show you how to mix the perfect Negroni cocktail using our classic Negroni recipe. Let’s get those cocktails stirred!
What is a Negroni?
A classic Negroni is a strong cocktail that traditionally mixes one part Gin, Vermouth, and Campari, to give you three parts alcohol!
This is an easy drink to prepare in its most basic form, but it’s not a cocktail for the novice drinker to partake of more than once in an evening. And while the Negroni cocktail recipe is itself simple enough, you’ll see that there are a lot of different variations and a lot of different Gins and Vermouths that can seriously affect the flavor.
But where does this powerful cocktail originate from? The Negroni was first mixed in Italy at the turn of the 20th century. It’s actually a variant of another, lesser-known cocktail that an Italian Count decided just wasn’t strong enough for him.
The Americano is a sweet cocktail that’s the predecessor of the Negroni; it’s been popular since the 1860s but has been overshadowed by the Negroni ever since our Italian Count decided to make one simple change to the recipe. The Americano is prepared using one part Campari, one part Vermouth, and one part club soda.
The Count in question decided this wasn’t a strong enough combination, and so he asked for the club soda to be removed and replaced with one part Gin instead. The rest, as they say, is history!
How to make a Negroni
To make a Negroni, you need three basic drinks: Gin, Campari, and Vermouth. The Gin and Campari offer bitter elements to the cocktail, while the Vermouth adds the sweetness.
It’s a sharp, strong mix of sweet and tangy, and while it seems easy enough, a little experimentation will show you how different types of Vermouth and Gin can seriously alter the flavor. Let’s take a look at these opportunities in more detail.
Gin was the spirit that our famous Italian Count swapped the club soda for, thereby creating the Negroni. Dry Gin is the standard choice for bartenders, but this is where you could be missing a trick.
Gin is a very floral drink, and with so many different botanicals available when it comes to craft gin these days, there’s no reason not to go for unique blends and flavors. We suggest trying a lemon- or lime-infused Gin for a summer cocktail, or you could even add a drastic taste change with a rhubarb Gin - these days, the Gin choices at your disposal are endless.
Campari is a mid-strength Italian aperitif that’s a vivid shade of deep red. It’s the traditional liqueur of the Negroni, and it’s prepared using a unique mixture of Italian fruits and Italian herbs.
Campari is a mysterious drink, and while it sometimes tastes sweet and floral, the overriding flavor that leaves its real mark is one of bitterness.
If you don’t have Campari, then it’s possible to switch it for Aperol, which is a very similar liqueur. In fact, Aperol is much sweeter than Campari and can make for a welcome change from the bitterness of a classic Negroni.
Vermouth is a type of wine (although it’s commonly seen as a liqueur) that comes in three major varieties. There’s sweet, dry, and white Vermouth. The classic Negroni is prepared using sweet Vermouth, as it’s intended to counter the bitterness of both the Gin and the Campari.
For a super dry Negroni, however, you can try a dry Vermouth. It certainly makes the drink even less subtle! In terms of sweet Vermouth, if you’re sticking to classic Negroni ingredients, then there are several different varieties available.
Popular sweet Vermouths include Cinzano Rosso and Martini Rosso, or Carpano Antica.
A Negroni should be served on the rocks in a classic Old Fashioned Glass. That means you’ll need to use your Ice ball maker to prepare the best ice for this cocktail.
For garnish, a Negroni also needs to be served with orange peel. In fact, the orange peel is important because it’s the orange that distinguishes a Negroni from the Americano, which is served with lemon peel.
Best Negroni recipe
The following recipe prepares 1 Negroni drink in an Old Fashioned glass tumbler.
- 1 ounce of Gin
- 1 ounce of Campari
- 1 ounce of Sweet Vermouth
- Ice cubes
- Orange peel
- Measure out 1 ounce of Gin, 1 ounce of Campari, and 1 ounce of sweet Vermouth into a cocktail mixer and stir the ingredients together.
- Add your ice cubes to an Old Fashioned glass, then pour the Negroni over the ice.
- Garnish the glass with an orange peel, then serve immediately.
Negroni recipe FAQ
How can you vary the Negroni recipe?
In addition to the previous suggestions we made concerning different types of Gin, and different varieties of sweet Vermouth - and Aperol, instead of Campari - there are an endless number of ways to vary the recipe.
For a simple variation, try adding a dash of grapefruit juice to the cocktail - it’s fruity yet still bitter. The same goes for lemon or lime. If you’re feeling adventurous, then you can change up the spirits entirely. Rum or Bourbon are frequently used in place of Gin, for example, while another surprisingly popular addition is Tequila or a smoky Mezcal!
What’s the difference between an Americano and a Negroni?
Although the Negroni is much more well-known than the Americano, the Americano is a wonderful cocktail in its own right.
To prepare an Americano, all you need to do is mix one part Campari and one part Vermouth with one part club soda. It’s not quite as strong as the Negroni, and so it makes for a much more relaxed drink - you don’t have to worry about having more than one Americano!
Negroni recipe: the final blend
The classic Negroni is a cocktail recipe that never, ever seems to go out of fashion. Sure, the ingredients might be tweaked a little by bartenders here and there; a new garnish might be thrown into the mix; or a different combination of Vermouth, Gin, and Campari might be experimented with - but in its basic form, it hasn’t changed in over a century!
That’s fine with us because this simple blend of three spirits and liqueurs served over ice and with a garnish of orange is more than enjoyable. If you’re looking to expand your bartending know-how, then why not practice with our Negroni recipe?