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Cocktail of the Week: The Perfect Negroni

By Olivia Cuccaro

The Perfect Negroni

  • 4/5 oz Sipsmith London Dry Gin
  • 4/5 oz Campari
  • 4/5 oz sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica, Cinzano Rosso or Punt e Mes)

To create this cocktail of the week, pour ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir until blended. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice block. Garnish with an orange twist.

Rooted in European history, the negroni cocktail has found its place among the old fashioneds, martinis and Manhattans to be deemed a classic. Legend has it that the cocktail was invented in early 20th-century Florence when Count Camillo Negroni marched into the Caffè Casoni bar to ask for a stronger version of his Americano (a mix of Campari, sweet vermouth and soda). While the negroni’s origin story is hearsay, fans of the cocktail can agree on the best method for mixing one up.

Unlike cocktails that use fruit juice in their recipes, the simple negroni does not need to be shaken. The three ingredients can be combined and served on the rocks, setting this gin cocktail apart from the ever-popular gin martini. A large block of ice ensures that the spirit isn’t diluted, and an orange twist adds a hint of citrus to cut any bitterness.

But, of course, the most important component of a negroni is the gin itself. Founded in the UK by Sam Galsworthy, Fairfax Hall and Jared Brown, Sipsmith London Dry Gin is the answer to the modern gin cocktail. Inspired by the rise of craft beer across the pond, the founders set out to create a gin and soon realized that copper distilleries were banned in England. The Sipsmith London Dry Gin Distillery opened its doors in 2009 — after much deliberation with Parliament — becoming London’s first new copper distillery in nearly 200 years.

Elite Traveler speaks to Jared Brown, Master Distiller for Sipsmith London Dry Gin, about the super premium small batch gin and the classic negroni cocktail.

What makes a great negroni?

Three ingredients in equal measure. The negroni should be simple to prepare. Yet a great negroni requires far more than accurate measures. The choice of gin, the exact proportion of Campari, the choice of vermouth, the ice, garnish and preparation method all influence the quality of the drink. Far more important than which brand of vermouth to use is making sure the vermouth is fresh. Vermouth is a wine. Like other wines it breathes, then it rots and dies in the liquor cabinet. It will last 10 to 15 times longer if it is refrigerated after opening, but a negroni will never taste better than when the vermouth is freshly opened.

Why is Sipsmith Gin the ideal choice for this cocktail?

The gin should be a classic London Dry. Sipsmith became a cult favorite years ago among serious negroni fans as its traditional balance plays so well with the other ingredients. Sipsmith’s soft pine and sweet citrus mingle nicely in this delicious aperitif.

Why is the negroni a perfect summer cocktail?

The drink is at its best over ice and stirred for a moment to balance the flavors. Served on the rocks or over a single large hand cut ice cube, garnished with a half slice of orange, the negroni is a perfect summer drink — evoking five o’clock on Friday in Florence. It has such relaxed elegance and refinement, it is perfect for marking the transition from the workday to an enjoyable evening.