The Negroni is disarmingly simple — one part gin, one part sweet vermouth and one part Campari, stirred and served over ice with an orange twist — but its balance of botanical bite from the gin, the sweet and spicy tug-of-war from the vermouth and the final bitter punch from the Campari has been bewitching bartenders for years now, even when the martini reigned supreme.
The scarlet-colored cocktail (so hued because of the Campari, a striking aperitif) is such a crucial component of any bar program that there’s now a whole week devoted to it.
Running starting Monday through June 7 this year, Negroni Week, a nationwide event, both celebrates the beauty that is the Negroni and raises money for important charitable causes. Bars all over the U.S. are serving up the classic cocktail, as well as fun riffs on it, and donating the proceeds from each purchased drink to the charity of their choice.
Here’s a list of what some local bars are doing next week and which charity they are benefiting in the process.
Drink.Well: The Negroni (Campari, Genius Gin, Dolin vermouth); Sbagliato Negroni with sparkling rosé; and Bianco Negroni (Ford’s Gin, Suze and Dolin blanc vermouth). Benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
East Side Show Room: Western Union (mezcal, punt e mes, Campari), benefiting Austin Pets Alive
Freedmen’s: Bartender’s Choice Negroni, benefiting American Heart Association
Italic: Classic Negronis on tap, benefiting the Sustainable Food Center
Midnight Cowboy: Walking Spanish (Vago Espadin Elote Mezcal, La Guita Manzanilla Sherry, Bigallet China China Quinquina, grapefruit peel), benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank.
The Hightower: The Negroni, More Cowbell (Rakia, Aperol, blanc vermouth) and New Pal (rye, vermouth, Averna, bitters). Benefiting ColorCancer.
Searsucker: White Negroni with Lemon Verbena-infused gin, benefiting Austin Pets Alive
The Tigress: Classic Negroni, Crimson Dream (mezcal, sweet vermouth, Aperol, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur), Roses Are Red (gin, Scared Spirits Rosehip Cup, sweet vermouth) and Oh Sherry (gin, Contratto vermouth, Tio Pepe sherry fino). Benefiting Austin Pets Alive.
Vox Table: Classic Negroni, Boulevardier (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Campari, Cocchi Torino), Aged Negroni (Waterloo Antique Gin, Campari, Cocchi Torino), American Negroni (Aviation American Gin, Campari, Cocchi Torino) and Rum Negroni (Treaty Oak Aged Rum, Campari, Cocchi Torino), benefiting Austin Pets Alive.
W Austin: Barrel-Aged Negroni (Dripping Springs Gin, Campari, Martini Rossi Sweet Vermouth), benefiting Austin Young Chamber of Commerce
Whisler’s: My Fair Lady (Pisco Porton, Campari, Cocchi Americano, Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters), benefiting St. Jude’s Research Hospital.
For the full list of participating bars in Austin, visit negroniweek.com/participating-bars/.
Or, if you’re interested in mixing up a Negroni yourself, consider using locally made gin from any one of the mostly top-notch spirits producers here: Dripping Springs Gin, Genius Gin, Moody June Gin from Bone Spirits, Waterloo Gin from Treaty Oak Distilling and Austin Reserve Gin from Revolution Spirits.
At an informal blind taste test yesterday at the Tigress, I had the opportunity to try each of these gins by themselves and then incorporated into a Negroni (with the Campari and the vermouth remaining the same each time). The results?
I found myself preferring the bold anise-heavy Dripping Springs Gin all by itself — it’s not a traditional juniper-forward London dry-style gin, something that works for it — as well as Treaty Oak’s Waterloo Gin, a stellar example of the London dry style with a Texas twist. Waterloo, in addition to using local juniper and other botanicals, also features lavender, grapefruit and pecan. They aren’t typical ingredients to add to gin, but they impart Treaty Oak’s gin with a regional flavor.
However, in the Negroni, I leaned toward — in addition to that Waterloo — the Austin Reserve Gin from Revolution Spirits. Assertive enough to have a complementary presence alongside the Campari and vermouth, it balanced them so well, drawing out the floral, citrusy notes present in the gin. Austin Reserve is made with just six botanicals: juniper, rosemary, grapefruit, lemongrass, lavender and pink peppercorn. That simplicity is effective.
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Garnish orange twist
Stir all ingredients with ice in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with the orange twist.