A century ago, the beautiful Caffe Giacosa on Florence’s famed Via Tornabuoni was a regular stop for Count Camillo Negroni who enjoyed his regular afternoon aperitif—an Americano cocktail—there. One day (maybe he had an especially bad day? Or an especially good one?) he asked the bartender Fosco Scarselli to amp up the usual by adding gin instead of soda water to the Campari. Scarselli added an orange garnish and the Negroni became a thing.
Tracy Gomez, bartender at AC Hotel and winner of Salt Lake magazine’s 2017 Cocktail Contest, will make her classic version using Tanqueray gin, Campari and Lustau Vermut rojo. “We’re calling our variation the Cascadian Negroni and making it with Big Gin bourbon barrel aged gin (Washington), Ransom sweet vermouth (Oregon) and Tempus Fugit Gran Classico bitter (California).”
Well, we aren’t positive that’s a true story or that the gin-craving Negroni was really a count (his grandfather was) and the caffe has gone the way of most things old and beautiful, but the drink survives. Really, it thrives in today’s cocktail scene, a beautiful garnet-colored flash of elegant bitterness among all the sweet sips usually preferred by Americans. Like all recipes, the one for a classic Negroni (1 oz. Campari, 1 oz. gin, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, stirred and served over rocks) has been tinkered with. The Negroni spagliato (meaning “wrong”) calls for prosecco; the Negroski uses vodka instead of gin.
In 2013, the magazine Imbibe and Campari, presented the first Negroni Week and raise funds for charities. Since, 10,000 bars participate and $2 million has been raised. Every June, bars and restaurants mix Negronis and Negroni variations for the cause.
This year Negroni Week runs through June 30. Bartenders across town will be slinging their takes on the classic summer drink.
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