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The history of Italian Negroni and how to make one

The history of Italian Negroni and how to make one

Emily Shaw

The Negroni is a classic Italian Aperitivo, a drink designed specifically to whet the appetite. It’s one that reminds us of long evenings in Italy, enjoying a drink and bite to eat with friends and family. And it’s the best way to start most pasta dishes. 

Aperitivos are usually refreshingly bitter. They’re sipped alongside pre-dinner snacks or simply enjoyed as a precursor to the main meal. This tradition became bound with Italian culture during the 1920s in Milan - which is now thought of as the drink’s capital. 

The actual word originates from the Latin verb ‘aperire’ which literally means ‘to open’. The Aperitivo opens up and excites your appetite, getting you primed and ready to enjoy your food.

The unknown history of the Negroni drink

There are two different stories about how the Negroni came to life.

The first story is all about Conte Camillo Negroni, a Florentine who visited the United States aboard the Fulda in 1892. Some consider him to have been a Count - although this is much debated. As is his job title. There are various accounts of the Camillo Negroni as a banker, cowboy and a renowned gambler. 

The story goes that Camillo asked a bartender to make his Americano cocktail a bit punchier. Replacing the soda with gin, he created the Negroni. 

The alternate version of events is centred around Noel Negroni and his ancestors. Noel believes that Count Camillo has nothing to do with the famous drink. In fact, he stated that there’s no reference to him in the family tree whatsoever. 

Rather, the Negroni was founded by General Pascal Olivier de Negroni de Cardi - born in Corsica in 1829. It’s said that this cavalry officer and veteran of the Franco-Prussian War wrote to his older brother boasting about the cocktail he invented at the Lunéville officers' club in Saint Louis. The Negroni. There are further claims that it was created between General Pascal and his wife to mark their marriage.

With two tales battling for the Negroni origin story - it’s pretty tough to decide which is the right one. Especially when there’s no record of the drink in its current form until the 1950s. However, since then it’s always been created using the same fundamental ingredients...

How to serve a perfect traditional Negroni

Served on the rocks, the Negroni is made from just three essential ingredients: gin, sweet vermouth and campari. We always make sure to add a slice of orange to finish. This simple garnish enhances that signature aromatic drinking experience. Plus, it emboldens that famous deep orange glow.

A Negroni should never be made without Campari. This distinctive red drink is renowned for its bittersweet taste, with undertones of cherry, cascarilla and cinnamon. And it’s what makes this an authentic Italian Aperitivo. To keep things traditional, don’t meddle with the Campari or switch it out for something else. 

Make sure to use a sweet, Italian Vermouth; with enough spice to balance out the other flavours. This levels everything out and complements the Campari perfectly.

Lastly, find the right gin. And pick a dry one. With signature notes of juniper and citrus. If you’re determined to make a classic Negroni, gin should always be your base spirit.

When you’ve added each ingredient, don’t shake it up. This will cause a flavour imbalance, and you’ll lose all those delicious sweet, bitter and herbal flavours. Instead, stir all the ingredients together with a generous helping of ice to cool things down and reduce the intensity. 

Shop Scarpetta’s classic Negroni

If you want to try a Negroni without the hassle of mixing it yourself, our restaurant mixologists have spent time developing the best blend of spirits, bottled and ready to go. Made using the perfect balance of Campari, vermouth rosso and gin, simply shop our traditional Italian Negroni and just add ice. 

You can choose a 200ml bottle - ideal for two to share. Or if you’re looking to fill a few more glasses, pick the 1 litre bottle.

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Scarpetta Canary Wharf
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110 Cannon Street, London, EC4N 6EU
20% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER WITH "CIAO20" FREE NATIONWIDE DELIVERY OVER £25

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