The unassuming little one-two-three equal parts Negroni isn’t just a drink, it’s a state of mind.
And really, it’s not so unassuming. That color! All vibrant red and entirely eye-catching. When you see someone else cupping a double rocks glass, a giant cube slowly melting in its sunset rouge-iness, it’s an “I’ll have what she’s having,” kind of drink. But some smart bartenders take it to an even more delicious level.
You might have seen something curious behind the bar of EHP Resorts’ little seaside gem, Sí Sí: barrels branded with the Mediterranean-skewed restaurant’s logo. They’re not just for decoration, though. Inside each and every one of the six petite white American oak barrels is a batch of Negroni cocktails.
“We age our Negroni for at least one month before we sell it. We have six barrels and make 300 ounces of the cocktail at a time,” says Grigore Cosolovschi, beverage director for EHP Hospitality. If you need a little math translation there, that’s about 100 cocktails in those lovely little wooden casks.
“The reason we want to age the cocktail a little is to mellow down the flavors slightly and let the ingredients sit together and blend,” he continues. “When you try it, you can literally taste the difference. Barrel aging makes the ingredients rounder and mellower. Even the texture changes. It’s a whole different Negroni.”
That’s not the end of Cosolovschi’s Negroni tweaking of the classic, either. He also takes the time to infuse the Campari — perhaps the most key aspect of the drink — with fresh, carefully zested orange peels for 24 hours. “You can’t have any pith,” he warns, “Otherwise that will make it more bitter.”
Delightfully herbaceous and bitter, with just a hint of sweetness humming beneath the swirl of flavor, Campari belongs to the amaro family of the spirit world, but is typically consumed as a pre-dinner aperitif. Invented by Gaspari Campari in 1867 in Milan, its gorgeous bright, red hue remains as eye-catching today as it was nearly 160 years ago.
And the Negroni?
“The Negroni was created by Count Camillo Negroni in Florence in 1919 when [he] ordered an Americano — traditionally made with Campari, vermouth and soda — but replaced the soda with gin,” says Olivia Cerio, Italian spirits portfolio manager for Campari Group. “The Negroni is revered for its perfect balanced combination of three ingredients: equal parts sweet vermouth and London Dry gin joining Campari, the red heart of every Negroni.”
Next week, September 18 to September 23, is Negroni Week, a worldwide event co-created by Campari and Imbibe magazine not just to appreciate the cocktail but also to help the organization Slow Food in their efforts to create a more sustainable and equitable landscape in the beverage and food industries. Hit up Sí Sí to taste Cosolovschi’s delicious version, or pop into Negroni Week participating spots like Coche Comedor, Nick & Toni’s, Townline BBQ and Rowdy Hall, where you can sip on a traditional version or all manner of riffs.
“Negroni Sbagliato is my personal favorite riff, which swaps out gin for Prosecco. The bitter sweet combination of the sweet vermouth and the Campari is still reminiscent of the classic Negroni, but this sparkling variation adds effervescence and lightens up the body of the cocktail,” says Cerio. “There is a Negroni riff for everyone, and Negroni Week is the perfect time to explore the endless options!”
While you might not have an oak barrel handy, if you want to celebrate Negroni Week at home, making Cosolovischi’s orange-infused Campari is easy-peezy, and, he says, “the essential oils add an extra boost of flavors and aromas.”
Other steps to get closer to Sí Sí’s version: “We use a Japanese gin called Roku. The aromatics and cleanliness of that gin are absolutely mesmerizing,” he says. The final touch of sweet vermouth is the ultimate component for melding the myriad herbaceous qualities in the spirit and aperitivo amaro. Depending on our mood, we’re fans of both the dried fruit and spice qualities intrinsic in Cinzano 1757 Rosso vermouth, and the richness of Carpano Antica (all can be purchased at Churchill Wines & Spirits in Bridgehampton, among other well-stocked spirits shops).”
But as far as the recipe goes? Cosolovischi is happy to stick to the script and keep it classic: “It’s an easy drink to make if go by the classic recipe: equal parts of each. One, one, one.”
Sí Sí’s extra-orange Negroni
For the orange-infused Campari
- 2 medium oranges
- 1 750ml bottle Campari
For the Negroni
- 1 oz Roku gin
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth