Yes, the weather is getting cold, and yes, the Negroni is necessarily a chilled drink, best enjoyed on the Italian-side coast of Sperlonga overlooking the caves and water where Tiberius enjoyed his final syphilitic dinner parties.
There are certain drinks you can only enjoy in one context, and the Negroni is one of those. The Negroni for the most part requires warm weather — preferably a precarious Roman tile roof with a hash spliff and a liter of red wine besides — but I live in Charleston and our winters are, well, not really winters at all. Also, apparently the Negroni has become the de facto house drink at Cutty’s and I hadn’t had one in years so I needed to reacquaint myself with this concoction.
The Negroni is, at the end of the day, a gin drink, though there’s significant buildup on top of it. Beefeater gin, or whatever gin you prefer, requires a bit extra kick in my opinion, notwithstanding The Ghost of Jay Cutler’s outrageous martini opinions. I hope Ghost gets all the way up in my ear for this post, because we need another 2017 Gin Wars.
It’s here that I should remind you that gin, as a juniper-based poison, itself contains juniper, which is poisonous to humans. It takes the human body about twice as long to process gin as it does other liquors, which is why Gin Drunk feels severely different and more prolonged than other types of drunk. Be forewarned, dear reader.
Here’s your base Negroni recipe; embellish as needed.
1 oz Beefeater gin (or whatever gin you prefer)
1 oz Campari
3⁄4 oz sweet vermouth (whatever you want)
4 or so dashes Angostera bitters (to taste, really)
Stir with ice
Strain into chilled glass of your choice, just not a martini glass
Garnish/squeeze with an orange peel
This manual comes courtesy my good friend and bartender Will, who took a sip of it and surprised himself at how smooth it was. There’s nearly a Fernet-level of herby kick leftover in the finish that makes the holidays feel totally present. The Campari’s grapefruit isn’t overwhelming enough to drive this gin thing into full on citrus land, and the bitters wrangle it back into grownup palate sensibilities.
You’re not going to drink this thing when it’s 30 degrees outside, I know. But when you wake up on Christmas Day and it’s suddenly 70 degrees, perhaps consider making your thirsty family an ice-cold Negroni, which sits well on anyone’s back porch, whether in Rome or Charleston.