The classic Negroni is one of the world’s most beloved cocktails – a bittersweet medley of aromatic gin, biting Campari and smooth vermouth. The Italian apéritif dates back to the early 20th century, when it was traditionally enjoyed al fresco to stimulate appetites for a delightful plate of Italian food.
The Italian cuisine experts at Pasta Evangelists recommend pairing the delectable drink with a pasta dish, explaining that “creamy, cheesy pasta sauces call for a sharp, crisp cocktail like a Negroni”. Sounds good to us. But as happens with all of the mixology greats, inventive bartenders have recently started to put their own spin on the standard Negroni.
If you’re looking to spice up your Friday night tipple, we have the recommendations for you. Here are four twists on the Negroni that will whet your appetite just in time for dinner.
1. White Negroni
One of the most popular remixes of a classic Negroni was invented by a British bartender back in 2001 for beverage trade show VinExpo, according to Liquor.com. Swapping out two of the three key ingredients that make up the cocktail might raise questions about its classification as a true Negroni – but once you taste this particular franken-cocktail, your concerns will float away.
The White Negroni instead features bitter French gentian liqueur to replace Campari, and Lillet Blanc, a wine-based aperitif to sweeten the deal. News of the lip-smacking tipple soon spread, and it’s now a mainstay on cocktail menus around the world. To make it, you’ll mix 30ml gentian liqueur, 30ml gin, and 30ml Lillet blanc, then garnish with a twist of lemon. Bon appétit!
2. South by Southwest Negroni
Sharing its name with the popular Texan arts festival, the South by Southwest Negroni perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the south. This take is characterised by an intense smokiness that complements the bitter Campari so adored by Negroni drinkers. To the naked eye, it looks remarkably like the beloved cocktail – but one sip of this scotch-based serving will quickly tell you otherwise.
Scotch whisky takes its smoky flavour from a unique peat brewing process, explains Whisky Ride. Unlike the White Negroni, this recipe swaps out the usual dry gin used in the cocktail. To make one, you’ll mix 30ml of Campari and 30ml sweet vermouth with 30ml of aged scotch whisky. For an added floral note, garnish with an orange flower and a little orange blossom water, and serve over ice.
3. Cold-brew Negroni
Breaking from tradition a little bit more, the Cold-Brew Negroni is a refreshing wake-up call for the connoisseur who thinks he’s tried it all. You can riff endlessly on the cocktail by swapping out its key ingredients, but sometimes a little tweaking is all that’s necessary. This is the rationale of this java-infused take – rather than losing the stalwart flavour of Campari, you simply meld it with a little cold-brew coffee to soften the edges.
To make the brewed beverage, you’ll need to mix standard equal measures of dry gin, sweet vermouth and Campari liqueur, as well as just 10ml or so of cold-brew coffee. This can be any cold brew of your choice, but for an extra punch of coffee flavouring, steep the grounds for longer – up to 24 hours in advance, if possible.
4. Negroni Sbagliato
The ‘broken’ Negroni, or the Negroni Sbagliato, was the drink on everybody’s lips in 2022. This is thanks to an HBO interview that went viral back in October with ‘House of the Dragon’ stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke. In the clip, D’Arcy tells their costar that their drink of choice is a Negroni Sbagliato – with prosecco in it. The flirtatious scene captured the imagination of certain factions of social media, and the rest is history.
If you want to make your very own Negroni Sbagliato, you’ll need to mix the traditional Campari and vermouth with sparkling wine. Any bottle of fizz will do, though the experts at Punch recommend prosecco. This replaces the usual gin and creates a cool, refreshing mix with just the right amount of bubbly goodness. Stunning!
Also read: Negroni Recipe: How to Make Negroni