London Dry Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth. The Judi Dench of the Cocktail world. Short, strong, a timeless classic.
The History of the Negroni
Café Casoni, Florence, Italy, 1919. Count Camillo Negroni asks bartender Fosco Scarselli to strengthen his favourite cocktail, ’The Americano’, by replacing the soda with Gin. Adding an orange slice to signify the new drink, the Negroni is born. Camillo Negroni, like us, had a taste for hard liquor; a taste he picked up while working as a rodeo clown in the American Wild West. On his return to Florence in 1919, he frequented Café Cassoni, and often wanted something a little stronger than the Americano's on offer; we’ve all been there. After his first taste of the new drink, other patrons of the bar started asking for ‘one of Count Negroni’s drinks’ and after a while it became known simply as the Negroni.
“The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” – Orson Welles
The Negroni remained an understated classic (like our Judi) for almost a century, appearing exclusively on the menus of Italian restaurants and bars and as a mainstay of their Aperitivo hour offerings.. But in the last decade, it has skyrocketed to new levels of stardom and is now a staple on any self-respecting cocktail menu. It is the most popular member of a wider family of cocktails including the Americano, Sbagliato and Boulevardier. A perfect balance of bitter, sweet, earthy and aromatic, the classic Negroni is an unequivocal all-star; simple in its ingredients, complex in its finish and an unforgettable shade of red to boot. It’s a real house favourite here at Black Lines. It’s also part of a cocktail class of its own; the Aperitivo.
The Aperitivo in Italy is a glorious, cultural panacea; a drink and time of day whose key purpose is to bring people together, stimulate conversation and, most importantly, whet the appetite. Take a walk through the cobbled streets of Florence on a warm summer evening and you’ll get a feel for what the Aperitivo is all about. Cafes, restaurants, little bars on every corner; patrons spilling over onto the streets; short glasses filled with vermouth, bitters, herbaceous tipples; delightful morsels on every small plate; all painted with a dappling of rich sunlight. Campari is a stalwart of many Aperitivo cocktails as the bitter liqueur helps to stimulate the appetite. It makes the Negroni is a crucial member of this class; an appetite whetter, best enjoyed with a bowl of salty Castelvetrano olives and a slice of rosemary focaccia.
Our Negroni Recipe
The Black Lines Negroni is not a recent development - for two years it has been a mainstay of our premixed cocktails on tap offering, pouring in Harrods, Temper & The National Theatre among others. In the most part, we build our Negroni the way it was always intended, but we’ve also made some subtle tweaks that make our take on it a little bit special. Firstly, ours is a slight variation on the original equal parts recipe, delivering a delicate balance of the classic Negroni ingredients; Juniper-forward London Dry Gin, bitter and bold Campari and herbaceous Vermouth.
“Black Lines’ Negroni is really beautifully balanced. Part of this balance shows itself in the way the different notes come in stages on the palate; starting with a great aroma of dried oranges, followed by the vermouth on tasting. There’s a lovely lingering sweetness at the end and plenty of mouth-watering bitterness to balance it out.” – BBC Goodfood
We’ve worked alongside some of the best bartenders in London to calculate the perfect amount of dilution produced from a stir-down and built that into every 100ml serve. It means that, as with the draught cocktail, our bottled Negroni delivers a perfect serve straight from the bottle, without any extra work. It simply needs to be chilled down, poured over ice and garnished with an orange slice.
As with all of our creations we asked hot-shot Bristol illustrator Jamie Muck to characterise this classic. The cocktail illustration on the bottle is his portrayal of our Negroni and we absolutely love it; seems to us it might be what Count Camillo Negroni looked like after a few too many of his own creations in Café Cassoni. If you’re interested in learning more about the fantastic talent that is Jamie or any of the other artists we’ve worked with, head over to the Illustrators page. Our Negroni is now available as part of our cocktail delivery offering – click here to head to the store to make it yours.