Booze | September 16, 2022 7:10 am

Your Negroni Does Not Need Equal Parts

The uniformity of the classic recipe (same amounts of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) may not produce an ideal drink

A Negroni in a rocks glass on a tray with a strainer and a mixing glass in the background. Negronis usually are made of equal parts
The classic Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth — but should it be?
Campari

We’ve previously referred to the Negroni as “idiot-proof” because the cocktail recipe is ridiculously easy: Equal parts gin, one part sweet vermouth, one part Campari. Stir with ice in a mixing glass and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel. 

Now, there are a million ways to play with this recipe, particularly if you swap out an ingredient. We’ll get to that.

But what about those proportions? 

Almost everyone I’ve spoken with this year regarding Negronis has pretty much ignored those equal-part measurements. “I think that there was a time in cocktail making when it was just easier to put a recipe down as equal parts so folks remembered how to make it,” Toby Maloney of Chicago’s The Violet Hour told me earlier this year. 

An easy recipe aside, equal proportions don’t take into account the type or brand of spirits you’re using or the palate of the person having the drink (maybe they want something more gin-forward, for example). 

That said, some people embrace the classic recipe. “I love the classic equal-part Negroni recipe because I enjoy bitter-forward cocktails—and that’s exactly what this cocktail was invented for. To be bitter—and according to legend—potent enough for a rodeo cowboy,” says Helena Lombard, food & drinks expert at Campari’s The Mixer. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t shake things up a little. So add more gin and less Campari for a more botanical, less bitter cocktail. Or add more Cinzano Rosso and less Campari for something sweeter.” 

So play around with the ingredients or the measurements (even shake instead of stirring, as one daring bartender attempts a little later on). Just understand the origins of the drink first and what makes it a Negroni. “I think it’s OK to stretch the boundaries of the Negroni. The goal with mixology, after all, is first to understand the rules and then break them,” says Jason Hedges, Director of Beverage at LTH Hospitality. “In the end, however, your Negroni should still possess an herbal, sweet, and bitter-edged profile.”

Below, we present four bold variations on the classic Negroni and asked each drinks professional behind their recipe to also suggest a measurement tweak to the classic recipe. And for good measure, we threw in a non-alcoholic version that throws out all the rules.

Negroni Lucano
Negroni Lucano
Amarolucano.it

Negroni Lucano

Amaro Lucano, via the Italian Trade Agency 

Negroni Lucano

Prep Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 5 mins

Servings: 1

Ingredients
  • 1 oz Amaro Lucano
  • 1 oz Vermouth
  • 0.3 ml Gin
  • 0.5 ml Bitter
  • Orange slice and lemon peel

Build the cocktail on ice in a rock glass, garnish with an orange slice and a lemon zest to discard.

“Negronis are one of those cocktails that seem easy to execute, but it’s actually the opposite,” says Valentino Longo, Mixologist Ambassador of the Italian Trade Agency’s Italian Spirits Campaign. “In this case, I’m using one of the best Italian amaros to add a layer of complexity, chocolate and vegetable notes to the drink.”

As for the classic recipe? “I would raise the vermouth,” he says. “I love low ABV drinks in general. And you can make a ‘lighter’ Negroni without compromising the flavors. And drink a few more because of the low-alcohol level.” 

Tablet Negroni
Tablet Negroni
Jason Greenspan Photography

Tablet Negroni 

Iain Griffiths, Creative Director of Hidden Leaf 

Tablet Negroni

Prep Time: Overnight

Servings: 5-10

Ingredients
  • 1 oz Roku Gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth (at Hidden Leaf we do a 50/50 blend of Cocchi Torino and Dolin Rouge)
  • .25 oz Organic Whole Milk
  • .125 oz Boiron Passion Fruit Purée
  • 1 dash saline solution

Batch all ingredients together in a container (multiply measurements by the amount of Negronis you’re making). We make 200+ at a time but maybe start with 5 or 10 at home. Let everything stand in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The acidity in the purée will split the milk. After 24 hours, pass everything through a coffee filter to strain until clear. Bottle and store cold. This will last a very long time so don’t panic about drinking them all in a week! (Griffiths: “Or do, I’m not your mother.”). Serve in a rocks glass over a large ice cube. 

* Saline solution: Combine 10g of salt per 100g of boiling water. Stir until the salt has dissolved. Allow to cool and store in an eye dropper or dasher bottle.

“At Hidden Leaf, we use a simple process called milk washing to add greater mouth feel and roundness to the whole drink while also tempering some of the bitterness people might not enjoy,” says Griffiths, who was also inspired by Tablet candy, the creamy milk candies that are ubiquitous throughout Southeast Asia, for this Negroni variation. 

Interestingly, this unique take on a Negroni does utilize an equal split of gin, Campari and vermouth. But that doesn’t mean you have to. “Gin-heavy negronis are definitely increasing in popularity, and if you are going to change one measurement, the gin is the right one,” says Griffiths. “A little tweak, like .5 oz extra gin and then .25 oz less of the other two will give you a slightly drier, more aromatic Negroni.”

Negroni Con Caffeina 
Negroni Con Caffeina 
Jason Greenspan Photography

Negroni Con Caffeina 

Jon Brown, Senior Bartender at The Musket Room

Negroni Con Caffeina

Prep Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 5 mins

Servings: 1

Ingredients
  • 1 oz cold brew coffee
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Cocchi di Torino Sweet Vermouth
  • .25 oz Giffard Crème de Cacao
  • 3 sprays vanilla bean saline*

Combine all ingredients into a mixing tin with ice. Shake hard. Strain into a coupe glass. Spritz with Vanilla Saline & Garnish with dehydrated Orange glazed with demerara and topped with three coffee beans.

* Vanilla saline: 1 vanilla bean halved and split. Place in saline solution (3 oz Maldon Salt dissolved in 15 oz water)

“The substitution of gin for cold brew coffee is definitely the distinguishing feature, while the addition of the creme de cacao is more of an undertone for balance,” says Brown. “A major note, however, is that our take on the Negroni is shaken, which many would consider blasphemous, but I find playful and tongue-in-cheek.”

And if tinkering with the classic recipe, Brown chooses to go all in with vermouth. “If I had to change the measurements, I would consider which is best on the rocks and just put more of that. Gin and/or Campari on the rocks is pretty austere. Vermouth on the rocks, however, is absolutely delicious. I’d go as extreme as 2 oz of Carpano Antica and a .5 oz each of Campari and Bombay Sapphire gin.” (Note: Stir this one.)

Count’s Negroni 
Count’s Negroni 
Ashley Randall

Count’s Negroni 

Craig Schoettler, Beverage Director of LAVO Ristorante 

Count’s Negroni

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 10 mins

Servings: 1

Ingredients
  • 1 oz Roku Gin
  • 1 oz Carpano Antica
  • .5 oz Averna
  • .5 oz Montenegro

Add all ingredients and stir in ice. Strain into a 375ml bottle. Smoke with cinnamon sticks*. Pour tableside into a rocks glass with a large cube and an expressed orange peel.

* Smoked cinnamon sticks: Crush up cinnamon bark and place into a smoking gun. Begin smoking crushed-up cinnamon sticks in a 375ml bottle once all stirred ingredients are strained. 

“The balance of sweetness, bitterness and alcohol is the trifecta of craftsmanship that makes a Negroni what it is,” says Schoettler. “Our cocktail is ‘smoked’ with cassia bark to round out the earthy tones and accentuate the rich characteristics of the Amaros.”

And while Schoettler prefers the equal parts recipe of the classic, he does think adding more gin has its advantages. “If I were to change a measurement I would increase the amount of gin and decrease the amount of Campari. It makes so a softer version of the cocktail, less richness, less sugar.”

And, bonus, a non-alcoholic version by drinks legend Jim Meehan, which does not use equal parts (or gin or vermouth or Campari).

Nogroni Spagliato 
Nogroni Spagliato 
Wilderton

Nogroni Spagliato 

Jim Meehan

Nogroni Spagliato

Prep Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 5 mins

Servings: 1

Ingredients
  • 3 oz N/A sparkling wine
  • 1.5 oz Wilderton Bittersweet Aperitivo
  • .5 tsp balsamic vinegar

Build in a chilled Collins glass, then add ice cubes. Garnish with half an orange.

(Negroni Week, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, runs Sept. 12-18. For seven days, participating restaurants and bars will celebrate the classic cocktail and raise funds for different charities worldwide.)