In a world where there’s a day, month or week for every commodity from peanut butter (January 24) to pickles (November 14—you still have time to plan), it should come as no surprise that the Negroni also gets its recognition, called Cocktails for a Cause, from June 2- June 8. If your response is “What the flip is a Negroni?” then there’s some ‘splainin’ to do.
As with most memorable cocktails, a good back story is important, and the Negroni’s involves Italy, a suave Florentine count surnamed—you guessed it, and a bartender who, in the 1920s, accommodated the nobleman’s wish for an Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda) made with gin in lieu of spritz. Elegant in its equal-parts simplicity, the Negroni is now a perennial player and, along with a perfect martini or a platonic Old Fashioned, a test of a good bartender’s skill.
Campari and the drinks magazine Imbibe are sponsoring the Negroni’s week in the sun by tempering the shameless promotional aspect of it all with a charity component . But just because Campari is indeed the original bitter ingredient doesn’t mean we can’t play fast and loose with it. Or the vermouth. Or even the gin, as this is one instance where one might (almost) legitimately substitute vodka. Here’s the classic as might be made at a classy joint such as Bohanan’s Bar:
1 once Plymouth gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth.
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled coupe or lowball glass, garnish with a slab of orange peel. The drink can also be served over a big hunk of hand-cut ice, and its color is beautiful to behold as it caresses the cube’s contours.
Carpano is a big, ballsy vermouth, so a lighter drink can be achieved by using, say, Martini & Rossi; an amaro such as Aperol might be blended with or subbed for the Campari; and a white Negroni can even be accomplished using Suze (gentian-based) and Lillet or Dolin Blanc.
But why not let the local participants do the work for you? Here’s a list (go to negroniweek.com for the corresponding charities): Bar du Mon Ami, Blue Box, Bohanan’s, Cured, Esquire Tavern, Lüke, and Tribeca di Olmos. That’s one per day, so buckle up.