The quintessential Italian cocktail, Negroni, is one of those drinks that never goes out of style.
One of the classic Italian cocktails, a Negroni is addictive. Once you start drinking them, it becomes a favorite. My husband is a Negroni addict, annoying bartenders by ordering a drink they don’t know. More than once we have talked a bartender through the construction of this cocktail, as they indulge our desire for this obscure libation. Little do they realize that this drink has been around longer than they have, and is enjoyed worldwide. I’ve never run into this problem on our Italy tours, bars there are well-familiar with this cocktail and always have Campari on hand – these bitter liquors are much more popular there than here in the US.
The key ingredient to a Negroni is Campari, an alcoholic aperitif infused with herbs and fruit, including chianetto – a small bitter orange. Campari was invented in 1860 by Gaspare Campari, who was experimenting with new beverages. It is customary in Italy to end a meal with a bitter ‘digestif’ to settle one’s stomach. Gaspare Campari created a bitter digestif to be enjoyed before a meal, as an aperitif. In 1904, the company Campari opened it’s first production plant in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan. Under Gaspare’s son, Davide, Campari was exported overseas. Today, Campari is distributed in over 190 countries and the essential ingredient in many a cocktail, including the Americano (vermouth, campari, and soda), the Garibaldi and the simple Campari and soda or Campari and orange juice.
It is commonly believed that the Negroni was created in 1919 at Cafe Casoni in Florence, when Count Camillo Negroni ordered an Americano “strengthened” with gin rather than the usual soda water. The bartender, Fosco Scarselli, added an orange garnish instead of the usual lemon, to distinguish it from the Americano. As the cocktail gained popularity, the Negroni family opened Negroni Distillerie in Treviso, and produced a ready-made version of the cocktail, Antico Negroni 1919.Print
Kathy Bechtel’s obsession with food and cooking began as a teenager. After years following a traditional career path as a telecommunications engineer, she left to attend culinary school and wine training, and is now combining her passions for food and wine, the outdoors, and travel as owner and Culinary Tour Director of Italiaoutdoors. In this role, Kathy leads small bicycle, skiing and walking tours that explore the authentic regional cuisines, local products and undiscovered wines of Northeastern Italy.