Bitter, Better, Stranger: 8 Negroni Variations We're Mixing This Week
Happy Negroni Week! With the cocktail mixing and drinking lot, this week has become quite the tradition (and one with a good cause to boot!) - and here at Bitters + Bottles we’ve developed a bit of a tradition of our own. Our tradition is to mess with traditional things! Well, only sort of - we LOVE the traditional Negroni, but along with many a home and professional bartender, we think that its formula is a perfect one to riff on. So, right around this time every year, we come together to share our favorite Negroni variations. We wrote them down below and hope that they bring you some negroni-joy on this Negroni Week. Have a favorite variation of your own? We’d love to hear from you!
Rules of the Negroni Variation Game
Rule 1: A traditional Negroni is 1 oz of each - Gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth. So we generalize it to a Spirit, a Bitter Liqueur and a Sweet… well, anything sweet. Embellishments, like bitters are allowed, and encouraged!
Rule 2: There are no rules! Well… there are no other rules!
Preston’s Italy By Alameda Negroni is a no nonsense flight that connects the traditional Italian vermouth with St. George’s innovative Bruto Americano. His favorite dry Aviation Gin makes it a smooth journey.
Mix with plenty of ice. Strain over large ice cube. Express oil from orange peel and garnish.
Patrick's Jabroni is an explosion of flavors. The cask strength rum takes a little bit of water to tame but brings a lush garden of fruit to the forefront. Standing up to the woody and spicy Bruto as well as the herbaceous Del Professore sweet vermouth, this is a carnival of a Negroni and we can’t wait to party with it. Patrick does warn though, “One of these Jabronies will change your life. Two of them will ruin it.”
1 1/2 oz Hamilton St. Lucia 9 Year
1/2 oz Water
3/4 oz Bruto Americano
3/4 oz Del Professore Sweet Vermouth
4 dashes Mister Bitters Fig and Cinnamon
Mix with plenty of ice. Strain over a large ice cube. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
Meredith’s Agavoni takes a long waltz with some tangier, smoother, darker flavors. Half traditional Italian ingredients meet a smooth older tequila and a syrupy tart black currant. All the contradictions that give this variation all the right notes - and we can’t wait to dance.
Mix with plenty of ice. Strain. Serve up.
Melissa is our resident Negroni expert - so much so that we have a kit made to enshrine her favorite version. So for this pick she decided to go for something a bit unexpected - a heavy hitting rum, and a lighter bitter aperitif. Melissa’s Black Monday Murders is a recreation of a cocktail she had at the Alembic bar in San Francisco. A Negroni variation that sticks to the traditional equal parts ratio while balancing such diverse flavors is nothing short of miraculous - Melissa was surprised to see how well it worked, “I love how the Aperol's lightness balances out the Plantation OFTD, really impressive.”
Stir with ice. Strain over a large ice cube. Express an orange peel and garnish.
Joe has two contribution he shared this year. The first is the No Prep Kula Negroni. Joe says, “Julie Reiner’s Kula Negroni riffs on the original by swapping in a bianco vermouth and using strawberry infused Campari. It’s a fantastic cocktail, but with a five-day infusion required, not well-suited for someone like me whose menu planning tends to happen five minutes before cocktail hour. When we received La Madre Rosé Vermouth, a bianco-style that swaps out the typical stone fruit flavors with a touch of strawberry, a shortcut Kula Negroni was the first thing that came to mind.”
Combine in mixing glass with ice, stir until well-chilled, strain into cocktail glass and garnish with lime twist.
For the second variation, Joe shared a recipe he worked on with Nico Vera, a drink & food freelance writer, mixologist, and chef specializing in Pisco cocktails & Peruvian cuisine. Nico heads up Piscotrail.com, a fantastic blog about all things Pisco. Fittingly, Nico and Joe came up with a delightful Pisco based Negroni variation titled Oro en Paz. Nico kindly shared a few words about it: “The name Oro en Paz comes from the light gold color of the cocktail. Pisco was the spirit of choice during San Francisco’s Gold Rush era, and I was reminded of the city’s motto: Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra, or Gold in Peace, Iron in War.” This is an elegant and refined variation. Each ingredient contains delicate floral flavors that make this a truly unique version to try.
Stir all the ingredients together in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe. Twist an orange peel over the drink to release the citrus oils, then use as a garnish.
Our last variations come from Mish who found two cocktails that both led him home. The first plays around with aquavit and cardamom for an unexpectedly well balanced cocktail. “‘This Old Home-groni’ ended up accidentally reminding me of my childhood. Russian bread doesn’t shy away from using caraway seed, so it was a flavor close to my heart long before I ever tried aquavit. On the other hand, my dad would often make Turkish coffee, and so the taste of cardamom also has a warm, familial association for me. Gran Classico helps soften the aquavit, while the blanc vermouth ties it all together into one of the most cozy cocktails I’ve ever had.”
This Old Home-groni
Stir with plenty of ice. Strain over one large ice cube. Express orange peel and garnish.
For the second variation Mish went all things current-home. “The Cali-groni or the Home-groni, as we’ve come to call it, has all California ingredients. From the Mount Tam flavors of the Terroir Gin, to the California oranges and spices in the Bruto, to the herbs in the vermouth, this is the Golden State in a glass. My favorite Negroni version if I had to pick one.”
Cali-groni | Home-groni
Stir with plenty of ice. Strain. Express orange peel and garnish. Serve up.