Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Entertaining
3 Easy Ways to Change up Your Precious Negroni

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There’s no cocktail so loved (or so hated) as the Negroni. Made with perfumy, bracingly bitter Campari, sweet vermouth and gin, the classic cocktail is an acquired taste. But when someone does fall under the Negroni’s spell, they fall hard. Negroni purists swear by the original, equal-parts recipe and don’t take kindly to someone tinkering with the formula. Well, Negroni nitpickers, we’re here to tell you that it’s time to loosen up.

There’s nothing wrong with getting a little playful with the three-ingredient cocktail. Swap out the gin for a dark, aged spirit and discover a new world of depth. Or trade out Campari for a lighter amaro and transform the cocktail into something a little more approachable for those who can’t handle the original's bitter edge. The possibilities are endless. Don’t worry, you’re not cheating on your favorite cocktail. You’re just experiencing its multi-faceted personalities.

We asked bartenders from Apothecary 330, Montana’s Trail House and The Wayland to hit us with their favorite ways to change up the precious, perfect Negroni. Whether you’re a newbie or a purist, we guarantee you’ll love these expert variations.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall
The White Negroni is nothing new. But barrel aging the cocktail—a technique used by Apothecary 330 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida—is a smart new way to give the libation greater depth. Bartenders stir gin with Cocchi Americano (in place of the usual sweet vermouth) and gentian-based Suze (instead of Campari) for a Negroni that’s light, herbal, citrusy and just the right amount of bitter. While the drink is perfectly delicious fresh, aging it mellows out its sharp edges and helps marry all the bright and pungent flavors together. Plus, it’s a fun and easy DIY project, which ends in a seriously delicious happy hour. To make it at home, get your hands on a mini oak barrel, mix the ingredients, pour them into the barrel and let it age for 45 days. Time and patience delivers a dry, balanced cocktail so tasty, you’d happily wait another 100 days for a taste.

The Essentials

Gin
Cocchi Americano
Suze Aperitif
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
For his tropical twist on the Negroni, Montana’s Trail House beverage director Austin Hartman looked to the tiki mainstay, the Jungle Bird, for inspiration, and swapped out herbaceous gin for sweet, round rum. He doesn’t use just any old rum in his concoction, though. Hartman uses a signature rum blend, which is becoming more and more of a trend in the cocktail world. His personal mix is made up of a 2-to-1-to-1 ratio of Plantation Pineapple rum, Plantation Original Overproof and Hamilton’s Jamaican Pot Still Gold rum. “The blend gives you sweetness dominantly from the pineapple rum, which allows slight notes of the overproof to come through for added kick, while the Jamaican rum lends a favorable funkiness,” he says. Velvet falernum adds lime, ginger and vanilla notes, as well as that subtly sweet complexity intrinsic to all good exotic libations. Campari and sweet vermouth trace the drink back to its Negroni roots. “It still holds that classic look, but the aromatics of it are amazing and unique,” Hartman says.

The Essentials

Rum blend
Campari
Sweet Vermouth
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
New Yorkers are known for avoiding eye contact on the street and public transportation, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t good neighbors. Take The Wayland for example, a cocktail bar in Manhattan’s East Village that shares a building with Ninth Street Espresso. When the coffee experts arrived at The Wayland bearing a caffeinated gift, managing partner Brian Hawthorne turned it into a cocktailing treasure. “They had given us some freshly roasted beans to play with, so we turned them into bitters and made the 9th Street Negroni in their honor,” he says. Coffee bitters add a rich depth to this take on the classic, and Aperol gives it a slightly sweeter taste than the original recipe. Try it after dinner or even at brunch.  

The Essentials

Gin
Aperol
Punt e Mes

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