In Honor of Negroni Week, Six Variations Perfectly Suited for Fall
A drink long associated with summer gets an autumnal makeover, just in time for Negroni Week
(Update 9/13/21: It’s officially Negroni Week, a seven-day celebration of the iconic cocktail. It also serves as a charitable event — go to the previous link to find a participating venue making a great Negroni, or variation of, so you can both enjoy a delicious drink and give back. Below is our Negroni profile last year, where we offered up a history of the drink — including a talk with a bartender at the Italian cafe where the Negroni was birthed — and some interesting twists. Plus, we add a new recipe for this year.)
A lot of people place Negronis squarely with summer and warm weather — including us (oops). But it’s really an ideal drink for all seasons. Particularly fall.
You just have to be willing to make some very minor adjustments. While the classic recipe is idiot-proof (one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, one part Campari), a little tinkering with the ingredients will transform a bittter/fruity/juniper classic into something smokey, or tinged with notes closer to caramel or coffee. You know, fall notes.
“I apologize if you’re a Negroni purist, because I do play around with the ingredients a little bit,” admits Sipsmith Gin master distiller Jared Brown, who has no problem whatsoever altering a classic cocktail to suit his needs — and who provided two of the five fall variations on the cocktail below.
Side note: One of the bartenders at the birthplace of the Negroni actually thinks the classic recipe works just fine in sweater weather. “The Negroni is one of the best drinks for fall because it has 30% alcohol,” as Riccardo Banducci, Head Barman at Italy’s Caffe Lietta, tells us (Lietta was formerly Giacosa Caffe, home of the original Negroni … also, 30% is a really high ABV for a mixed drink). “It’s the perfect drink for colder evenings while everybody is heading back to work; it’s an easy go-to drink for a moment of relaxation, best enjoyed in good company.”
Below, six recipes that put a tweak on the classic Negroni (equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) to make it perfectly suited for autumnal sipping.
The Stout Negroni
Yes, there’s no Campari here. “Stout makes an excellent mixer,” as Brown tells us. “It’s remarkable how similar a flavor the final result is, but with a little more caramel notes, ones you’d associate with a stout.”
- 1 part Sipsmith London Dry Gin
- 1 part sweet vermouth
- 2 parts stout (Fuller’s Black Cab if you have it)
Combine the ingredients in an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass. Stir. Garnish with a thin orange wedge.
The Classic Negroni (With an Extra Shot)
This is Banducci’s recipe he uses at Caffe Lietta. But the variation arrives via Brown, the Sipsmith distiller, who suggests the following twist: “Take Riccardo’s recipe. But also drop in a ristretto espresso shot. It’ll become one of your favorite afternoon drinks.”
- 1 part Sipsmith London Dry Gin
- 1 part Bitter Campari
- 1 part Martini Rosso
- Splash of soda
- Slice of orange
- Lemon zest
- Ristretto shot
Mix all the ingredients over ice. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Drop in that shot. Garnish with an orange slice or a twist.
The Smoke + Mirrors
Not a gin fan? This smoky, campfire variation arrives via Kendra Anderson of Bar Helix, aka Denver’s “first and only Negroni bar.”
- 1 oz Campari
- .5 oz Bahnez Mezcal
- .5 oz Espolon Blanco Tequila
- 1 oz Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
Combine all ingredients and ice in a mixing glass. Stir well to combine, then strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice and garnish with an orange twist.
The Negroni Affumicato
And here, the smokiness arrives not from replacing the gin, but actually smoking the drink. Thanks to James Beard award-winning mixologist and Crafthouse Cocktails co-founder Charles Joly for this variation. “This is a nice option to enjoy as the leaves turn and the weather gets colder,” he tells us. “The flavors are warmer, it uses an aged gin, has notes of chocolate and coffee — and of course, the smoke really pulls it all together as a fall variation.”
- 1 oz Barrel Finished Bluecoat Gin
- .75 oz Cocchi di Torino
- .25 oz Caffè Amaro (J. Rieger)
- .75 oz Campari
Stir, serve over 2×2 cube in an Old Fashioned glass with an orange swath. Smoke in a smoking box with cherry wood.
The Everything Is Everything
The weather gets cooler, and we start craving carbs. This bagel (!) forward Negroni — created by Chris Amirault of Los Angeles’s Otium — could become your fall brunch favorite.
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1.25 oz. Bulldog Gin
- .5 oz. Everything Bagel Syrup
- .25 oz. 1757 Vermouth di Torino Rosso
Build ingredients into mixing glass over ice, stir and strain into everything bagel seasoning-rimmed glass over fresh cubed ice.
Coopers’ Craft Boulevardier
Yes, Cooper’s Craft is a bourbon. But the boulevardier is a whiskey take on the Negroni, and Cooper’s is a sponsor of Negroni Week this year — they’re donating to the Helen David Relief Fund, which assists those in the bar industry who are fighting breast (and other forms of) cancer. It’s a program of the USBG National Charity Foundation.
1.5 oz. Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve 100 Proof Bourbon
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir for 15 seconds and strain into a rocks glass or coupe. Garnish with an orange twist. ⠀
* Stout Negroni picture and Sipsmith recipes via Sipsmith: Sip: 100 Gin Cocktails with Only Three Ingredients, published by Mitchell Beazley, www.octopusbooks.co.uk. Photography: Yuki Sugiura
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