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Italian classic Negroni lifts bitter to a new level

Bitter is perhaps the least desired flavor. But note that it is still a flavor on your palate.

How do you like your coffee? Cream? Sugar? Lots of cream? Lots of sugar? If so, this drink isn’t for you.

The Negroni is a storied cocktail that, when ordered, lifts the spirits of any bartender worth their salt. Maybe it’s because so few people order it, but flavor wise, it is one of the most intriguing classic cocktails in the lot. Distinct to be sure, this Italian entry into the pantheon of classics is an easy recipe that yields an exceedingly curious blend of bitter, sweet and boozy that is somehow both complementary and contrapuntal.

The bitter element comes from Campari, an Italian liqueur dating back to the mid-19th century that has a seductive scarlet hue originally derived from carmine, a coloring agent made from cochineal (dried insects). Campari stopped using carmine a decade ago.

Only two more ingredients are added to this cocktail — gin and sweet vermouth. Each ingredient is equal parts, so crafting it couldn’t be easier. It’s drinking it that is difficult for most people. If you like bitter — black coffee drinkers — then the Negroni is your best friend and will make you seem so mysterious and exotic when you order it on your next hot date.



1 oz. Campari

1 oz. gin (Beefeater or Bombay regular, not Sapphire)

1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (spend some extra dough here for the good stuff)

Add all ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass and fill with ice. At Capitol Bar, I use one large hand-carved cube. Stir (never shake) until cold, and squeeze a lemon (more bitter) or orange rind (slightly sweeter) over the surface. Additionally, rub the rind around the edge of the glass for extra flavor.

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