I was at a wedding last summer.
The cordoned-off booze corral was not yet open for business, but your groomsman and his company needed a drink. It was hot and we were sober. We came upon a liquor cabinet with fairly slim pickings, but among them were bottles of Campari, sweet vermouth and gin.
"Negronis!" a genius hollered from somewhere behind us.
And then 10 minutes later — as is the case with every good Negroni story — we were drunk. Not "Sir, you need to leave" drunk, but fun drunk. Charming drunk. Able-to-recall-all-our-best-jokes-on-command drunk.
From that day forward, I have been a Negroni man, at least where summer is concerned. And you should be too.
1. The recipe is idiotproof.
I learned how to make a Negroni when I was about four years old. I didn't know it yet, but that's when I learned it. Because that's when I learned that one plus one plus one equals three. Which is essentially what a Negroni is: one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, one part Campari.
2. It is the ultimate punch cocktail.
The 1:1:1 comes in handy when you're going large format, because it means you can mix a perfect Negroni with a vessel of literally any size. Thimble, Collins glass, trash can — all will suffice. Just make sure you have a punch bowl proportional to whatever you're measuring with (in the case of the trash can, we recommend a kiddie pool).
3. Campari owns all other kinda-sorta shi*ty-tasting after-dinner drinks.
Does it kind of taste like your mom's gardening gloves? Well hell yes it does. Especially if you drink it straight, Steve Zissou-style. But mixed, it does that weird cocktail alchemy thing where its own sharpness is somehow magically balanced out by the gin and vermouth, and vice versa. What you're left with is a terrifically strong cocktail that kicks you in the pants without kicking too hard on the palate.
4. And boy, does it kick.
Like a Long Island Iced Tea or a juice glass full of Wild Turkey, Negronis should come with a disclaimer that says "Easy there, fella, everything in here is liquor." Rumor has it they were invented by an Italian guy who wanted a little extra leather on his Americano (1:1:1 Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda). The extra leather was granted. The rest is history.
5. Everything about this drink says summer.
The clear liquor base. The clink of ice against glass. The pinkish, fruit-punchy color. The beads of dew running down the tumbler. The orange peel garnish. The way you can't help but smack your lips and demonstratively mewl "AHH!" after every sip. If you're not on a dock or a veranda while drinking it, just close your eyes and tap your heels together three times — you will be soon enough.