The Campari-based cocktail – Negroni can be your perfect poison on a hot summer evening. As Aspri Spirits – the distributors of Campari celebrate Negroni week in India, Bunty Singh shares the history of this bitter-sweet Italian appertif with Sommelier India readers. According to one version of its origin, the eponymous Negroni was invented by Count Camillo Negroni, who one day around 1919 playfully asked the bartender at Caffe Casoni (now called Giacosa Café) in Florence to replace the soda in his Campari with a dash of gin to add zest to his drink and unknowingly the Negroni was born!
Till then the favourite and most popular style was the Americano – simple Campari and soda – a beverage to be drunk leisurely over a long summer afternoon. Then suddenly a new dimension was given to Campari, when bartenders started experimenting by adding red and sweet vermouth, or dry vermouth with the gin.
Today, the Classic Negroni, one ounce each of Campari, red vermouth and gin mixed with a few ice cubes and topped with an orange peel has become a great hit with young jet setters. While the traditional Campari served with orange juice or tonic water is still doing the rounds, you can be as inventive as you like and create your personal favourite.
Aspri Spirits, importers and distributors of Campari, recently celebrated Negroni week all over India. It was a week-long celebration of one of the world’s greatest cocktails when bars and restaurants raise money (minimum one US dollar for each NEGRONI sold) to support a local charitable organisation of their choice.
We toasted Negroni with Arun Kumar, the dynamic co-founder of Aspri, at Zerruco, a hip restaurant cum lounge bar at the Hotel Ashok in New Delhi owned by Prashant Agarwal. For me personally, the Negroni is yet another variation on an old theme. We have always enjoyed Campari and are never without a bottle in the house!