It might not be Friday yet however cheering today specifically calls for a special occasion. If you are someone who has graduated as a cocktail fanatic, we are very sure you have a glass of Negroni on your hand by now. For a cocktail that is as old as 100 years, it was quite marvellous for me to know that it's still a very famous conversation starter. Leading the charge on this weekend is the 9th year of the Negroni Week celebration until 18 September, 2021.
Having a classic bittersweet flavour - one that teases your palate, Negroni is that beautiful drink that has all its distinctive components in equal measure - not too less, not too much. Explaining this cocktail-nectar, Pankaj Balachandran, Brand Ambassador of Monkey Shoulder India comments, "The Negroni is an epitome of what you call a balanced drink - the bittersweet spirit balance. A spirit-forward drink widely appreciated by people around the globe, it is the perfect Apéritif style drink, which was pushed to the forefront of a classic." The delightful concoction of gin, Campari (bitter) and vermouth (aromatised wine) still manages to intrigue a lot of us. Well, it is a well-balanced drink on the palate which make it go for again and again.
The Negroni Craze:
With the growing nuances to add exciting twists of flavour to cocktails, innovations in this aspect have grown manifold. But specifically, for Negroni - the "3 ingredients in equal parts" style is not only appealing but is extremely delectable in every sip. Shantanu Sengupta, Reserve Brand Ambassador of Diageo India calls it as "the first cocktail that would knock your thoughts when you walk to a bar." Explaining the craze, he adds, "For many years Negroni has been the choice of drink for cocktail connoisseurs and veterans. The cocktail is timeless, pretty much like the ingredients that we use to make this cocktail. Over the last decade, there had been big evolution when it comes to the youth trying out variations. But most importantly the charismatic Italian name, the charming looks of the cocktail and the flavourful liquid-to-lips experience that Negroni is known for, appeals greatly to the younger generation."
While there are specific days to celebrate wines, champagnes; there's one whole week dedicated to the Negroni drink. During this week, most bars and restaurants mix classics and their variations. There aren't often times when certain drinks go for charity occasions and however, Negroni is one. "The Negroni Week, with its great noble objective, provides a sense of security to the alco-bev industry globally each year. In 2021, the initiative has seen a landmark evolution in supporting segments of the alco-bev industry affected due to the pandemic.", tells Shantanu.
Revamping The Classic Negroni:
In case you haven't been paying attention to the explosion of Negroni and its variations, it has sought to heighten the connoisseur's taste palette only. "Creating a revamp or variation of the classic drink is indeed a massive hat tip to the original. It shows how a simple three-ingredient cocktail can take shape and hold its ground with envisioned ingredients and thoughts." shares Pankaj.
Since the renaissance of Negroni in revamped flavours are appreciated all around, the blend happens seamlessly because of the addition of gin. Revealing the secret, Jagadish Kothandaraman, Dir. of Food and Beverage of Conrad Bengaluru explains, "Gin has a beautiful tendency to adapt to flavours, taking that as an advantage - connoisseurs around infuse some brilliant flavours in ageing the gins which had resulted in a great fusion without disturbing the authenticity of the drink and its core components."
While bar lounges, mixologists continuously work on creating new cocktails and recreating the classic ones with a twist, the beautiful concoction unlocks surprising savoury tints - sometimes, spicy; sometimes, tangy but the synergy of different flavours makes them immortal in your taste buds. As these whole episodes of mixing and reimagining have garnered a heavy interest, would Negroni be still the old one?
Shantanu shares a valid point, "Bartenders certainly have the liberty to revamp a classic cocktail, but this should be done with subtlety. I personally do not believe in replacing any of the 3 ingredients and still call it a Negroni. For instance, I would not want to replace Gin with Rum and call it a Rum Negroni. The revamp should not change the original recipe but should add a very interesting twist to the cocktail. So, like adding a dash of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to make the drink a little tangier or dropping toasted star anis into the drink for the sweet anise aroma that fills your senses, can be delightful twists." Thus, modernisation can be a progressive re-creation of the original but never a deviation.
How To Savor The Perfect Negroni?
While Negroni's perfect bitter-sweet concoction creates a distinct balance of alcohol and flavours, but not everyone likes the classic negroni - some complaint about it being bitter while others look for some smoky table theatrics. Mr Pankaj comes to the rescue here, "The bitterness is contributed by Campari but we must remember that it also contains sugar and so does the Vermouth. Is it a simple drink? Not really, it's as complex as it can get. To get a Negroni at a bar correct is a big deal. The balance is crucial. This is the case with many classic cocktails. For me, how well a Negroni is made at a bar is a make-or-break scenario."
Understanding Negroni definitely comes from experience and trying out the original one a few times. Mr Jagadish talks about some twists in flavours, "It is vital to understand the customer before suggesting a Negroni. Hence, they can go for variations like Negroni sbagliato made with sparkling wine, Truffle Negroni which is made with truffle-infused gin, Negroni Sour that is shaken with egg white."
Adding to the list of twisted Negroni drinks, Mr Shantanu shares too "Well you can try the 'Sloe Negroni' made by replacing the sweet vermouth with sloe gin that will add some plum, raisin and nutty flavours to the cocktail. Besides these, there are some deviations of the Negroni like the Coffee Negroni wherein you replace the gin with a concentrated cold brew coffee - a good day-drink. However, if you really want to keep it quick and simple, squeeze in any fresh citrus like grapefruit, orange or tangerine; or maybe make it minty by adding some slapped mint leaves."
So, don't wait for long and pour yourself a Negroni today ahead of the weekend as we bring to you a few recipes shared by experts themselves.
The Classic Negroni
(Recipe By Karan Kurup, Head Bartender, Dacha Social, Goa)
25 ml Campari
25 ml Vermouth
25 ml Gin
Stir the concoction into a glass over ice
Garnish with orange peel and serve
Boulevardier No. 3
(Recipe By Pankaj Balachandran, Brand Ambassador, Monkey Shoulder India)
30 ml Monkey Shoulder Scotch
20 ml 2 Campari
20 ml 3 Sweet Rosso Vermouth
Fill a mixing jar with ice cubes. Add all ingredients into a mixing glass.
Add cold dry ice into the mixing tumbler and stir
Once the optimum dilution is reached, strain into an old-fashioned glass with ice
Garnish with orange peel