MxMo: Forgiving the Negroni

mxmologoIt’s Mixology Monday time again. This month’s theme comes from Dagreb over at Nihil Utopia, and it is Forgiving: cocktails that are willing to forgive imprecise measurements or substituted ingredients. The theme intrigued us, as we love cocktails that still taste good even when you screw them up or start noodling with what’s in them. We chose the Negroni as our flexible favorite to work with this month.

The original Negroni is a classic equal-parts cocktail composed of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. All strong flavors that help balance each other, and different choices in gin and vermouth will give you different though equally tasty cocktails. We’ve found that varying the proportions slightly works great however you choose to do so, for example upping the gin a little and dropping the other ingredients to back down on the bittersweet flavors. This drink will also happily take substitutions to vary the flavor profile. For example, you can swap in an amaro for some or all of the Campari, or try a sweet white vermouth or other wine-based  aperitif in place of  the red vermouth.

Today, we decided to noodle around with the Negroni ingredients while keeping the proportions the same.


Negroni (classic)

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet red vermouth (We used the La Quintinye)
  • 1 oz Campari

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

  • Nose: Wormwood, cherry candy, juniper, chamomile, sagebrush, little bit of lemon.
  • Palate: Herbal to start, with chamomile, sagebrush, and strong juniper. Mid-palate is bitter wormwood and very sweet cherry candy along with caramel flavors and a touch of spice. Finish is quite bitter with more juniper and a little bit of lemon. Sweetest of the lot, which stands out when compared to the other two, as do the strong wormwood/green herbal flavors. Fairly viscous body.

Next, we thought we’d create a “training wheels” Negroni that isn’t quite as bitter as the original but still had a lot going on. We subbed Aperol  for Campari as having a similar though less bitter flavor, plus it brought some nice orange notes. We then switched out the regular red vermouth for Punt e Mes, adding some darker burnt sugar and hoarhound flavors to give some depth to the proceedings.

Negroni with Aperol and Punt e Mes

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1 oz Aperol

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon and an orange twist.

  • Nose: Orange, caramel, hoarhound candy, touch of almond pastry cream.
  • Palate: Lemon and orange to start. Slightly acidic orange juice notes between the start and the mid-palate. Mid-palate is hoarhound, caramel, burnt sugar. Finish is strong oxidized wine with bitter notes. Medium sweet, with the hoarhound and orange flavors standing out very clearly when compared to the other two drinks. As it warms up, hints of orange-flavored chocolate start to appear.

Finally, we thought we would try a variant of  Wayne Collins’ white Negroni, sticking with the Lillet but substituting a different light amaro.

White Negroni

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

  • Nose: Strong lemon and honey. Light, sweet, fresh floral, like fruit tree blossoms. Hints of rose.
  • Palate: Light, delicate start that is reminiscent of the nose, with honey, lemon and fruit tree blossom. Mid-palate is juniper, chamomile, angelica, and a little bit of orris root, all underpinned by strong and increasing bitterness. Lillet speaks up at the end of the mid-palate into the finish, with light, crisp, slightly mineral-y white wine flavors. Very bitter finish. Drier and lighter bodied than the other two drinks. The fresh floral qualities stand out when tasted side by side with the other two. Delicious but probably on the bitter side for most people. If you don’t love really bitter drinks, it would probably be just as nice and a little more approachable with the Varnelli backed down a touch.

IMG_4897So there you have it. A Negroni three ways, and there are countless more for you to create or discover. Thanks to Dagreb for a fun theme! Until next time, cheers!




This entry was posted in Amaro Dell'Erborista, aperol, campari, Cocktail Comparisons, gin, lillet blanc, Mixology Monday, punt e mes, sweet vermouth and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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