The Negroni, a cocktail that brings together spirit, bitter aperitif, and sweet vermouth in a knife’s-edge balance, is a modern essential. The classic (with gin and Campari) may have been the Negroni’s first expression, but it certainly isn’t the last. For Negroni Week 2020, September 14-20, we offer a handful of variations to geek out on, after a quick refresher on the original.
Negroni Week 2020
Negroni Week—a collaboration by Imbibe magazine and Campari that started back in 2013 and seeks to raise money for charities as it stretches the nation’s creativity—normally sees bartenders across the country mixing up inventive twists on the classic cocktail.
This year, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Negroni Week is online-only. Naturally, you’ll be able to participate in Zoom classes and celebrate on social media (check out the #NegroniWeek hashtag).
Negroni Week Cocktail Kit, $110.99 from SaloonBox
This includes everything you need for 12 cocktails, plus a one-year Imbibe subscription, and 10% of proceeds benefit the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.
With the pandemic having heavily impacted bars and restaurants, this year’s charities focus on organizations that help hospitality industry employees who have been affected by COVID-19. Please consider donating if you can—you can also shop and support—and mix up a Negroni at home to raise a virtual toast.
Did Camillo Negroni, a flamboyant count and famous drinker, first ask for a splash of gin be added to his Americano cocktail back in 1920s Florence? Maybe, though others say the Negroni is more a natural evolution of the Americano. We just know we can’t get enough of them.
The traditional mixture is incredibly simple to make, yet alluringly complex in flavor, but sometimes even perfection can be improved upon—or at least it’s fun to experiment now and then. The 12 additional Negroni cocktail recipes below are mostly just as easy as the classic, but make for delicious new flavor combinations, and include a couple fizzy and frosty versions that are perfect for summer (because it’s technically not over yet!).
Equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth with an orange twist and an ice cube. It ain’t broken and doesn’t need fixing. But if you’re willing to branch out a bit, keep scrolling. Get our Classic Negroni recipe.
For a sweeter take, add a splash of blood orange that is equal parts delicious and beautiful. Serve with a slice to make any tablescape reach Ina Garten level status. Get the Blood Orange Negroni recipe.
Blood orange brings the sweet, but grapefruit brings the bitter. Now you have a cocktail for every mood. How happy is that happy hour now? (Very.) Get the Pomelo Grapefruit Negroni recipe.
When substituted for Campari, Cynar, an amaro that prominently contains artichoke, adds a deeper and more savory level of bitterness to the Negroni. It deepens the color, too. Get our Cynar Negroni recipe.
The Italian aperitivo Aperol stands in for Campari in a twist on the original Negroni. Aperol is made along the same lines as Campari, but it’s less bitter, milder, and contains less alcohol. Get our Aperol Negroni recipe.
Swapping the Northern Italian sparkling wine Prosecco for the gin in a classic Negroni yields something closer in spirit to the original Americano, a gentler, fizzier aperitif. It’s a natural prelude for a range of festive occasions, from wedding dinners to date night. Get our Prosecco Negroni recipe.
Blended Scotch, Cynar, and a dash of grapefruit bitters provide carefully articulated depths to the classic Negroni. We adapted ours from a recipe by Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy in Food & Wine magazine. Get our Scotch Negroni recipe.
Along the same lines, a Boulevardier cocktail is basically a Negroni that uses rye whiskey instead of gin. You’ll get a little bit more of a spicy bite. Get the Rye Negroni recipe.
Related Reading: What Is the Difference Between Whiskey, Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch?
Tequila blanco stands in for gin in a version of the Negroni that expresses global solidarity. The grassy, vegetal taste of agave gives this version a subtle freshness. Get our Tequila Negroni recipe.
10. Slushy Negroni
Sometimes classic needs to kick back and have fun. To the textbook Negroni, we factored in a blender, ice cubes, and a bit of simple syrup to yield something to hang out with around the pool. Get our Slushy Negroni recipe.
Bittersweet cocktail…bittersweet chocolate; makes sense, and sounds delicious. The twist comes in the form of a simple syrup made from unsweetened cocoa powder, orange extract, turbinado sugar, and water. Try this one as an after-dinner drink/liquid dessert. Get the Chocolate Orange Negroni recipe.
13. Virgin Negroni
If you don’t drink but want to experience the flavors of the spirit-forward Negroni, well, you have a bit of a project ahead of you—but if you like to tinker, it’s well worth it. We call for making two infusions of nonalcoholic white and red wines, adding citrus peel and toasted spices like juniper and anise to mimic the spicy, herbal complexity of gin and sweet vermouth. The Campari is swapped out for Italian Sanbittèr soda, which is bright red and bitter in the best way. Get our Virgin Negroni recipe.
Sanbitter Rosso Soda, $17.49 from Amazon
This nonalcoholic drink evokes the flavor and color of Campari but with a bit of fizz; one reviewer recommends mixing with orange juice for a good nonalcoholic Negroni substitute.
Header image by Chowhound.