Your Negroni Will Taste So Much Better With Coffee Ice Cubes

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Mix equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari together, and you'll have a drink that's the definition of timeless popularity — the classic negroni. Over the years, bartenders and mixologists have gotten creative and made tons of riffs on the drink to get new tasting experiences from this Italian three-ingredient sipper. Here's a new idea worth trying out, courtesy of Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen in their book "But First, Coffee": a negroni with coffee ice cubes.

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The bitterness of coffee naturally makes a nice match for Campari, and the two meld together really well after a few stirs. However, to really preserve the flavors that make a negroni special, you'll want to mix the cocktail so that there's just a slight hint of coffee in the drink. Too much coffee at once, and much of the good flavors that negroni is famed for would be lost. By dropping frozen coffee ice cubes into your cocktail, it's like putting a brake on the infusion process. As the cubes melt, the coffee will suffuse the drink gradually with its deep, rich essence as you drink without overwhelming your palate right off the bat.

What coffee can do for your negroni

A good cup of joe shares the same complex, bittersweet flavor profile as the Campari bitter that's at the heart of every negroni. Campari has long been the go-to ingredient to give iced coffee a boozy upgrade, and it'll do the same thing for a negroni, too. But coffee brings more to the drink than just its signature boldness. With its deep, roasted richness, it can make the spicy, fruity flavors in the vermouth pop, resulting in a more well-rounded drink. The sharp edge of the alcohol is slightly dulled, making it a nice sipper for light drinkers. 

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The extra jolt of caffeine doesn't hurt, either. While it might not make your negroni a breakfast drink, it does give you a pleasant little pick-me-up and keeps your appetite humming well into the evening — the hallmark of a good aperitif. When you freeze your coffee into ice cubes, they melt slowly in the drink, releasing the coffee flavor as they do. You'll get just a hint of coffee on the first sip, and by the last, the coffee flavor will come down on your taste buds full force, finishing the drink with a bang. This gradual reveal of the coffee's deep flavor is what makes this trick so awesome.

The best type of coffee for your negroni

Just like how your choice of gin can make or break your negroni, the type of coffee you use is also key. Espresso and drip coffee are the most accessible options, but because they taste very strong, they might bulldoze over other flavors and nuances in the drink. Instead, we highly recommend using cold brew. It'll require a bit more effort than just pressing a button on your espresso machine, but thanks to the cold steeping process, a lot of the acrid-tasting acids will get left behind. You'll have a coffee that's smoother and silkier than your regular shot of espresso. 

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Plus, you don't necessarily need to steep the coffee for several hours to get a good enough brew to freeze into cubes for your cocktail. Just 10 minutes of infusion will do the trick for a very subtle — but still noticeable — coffee flavor. Ideally, though, you should give the cold brew about 24 hours to steep. That way, the coffee flavor will be prominent and all the more striking when incorporated into your negroni via cubes.

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