Negronis are in. The ruby coloured bitter delights are everywhere. Hipsters might tell you that this has been the case for a few years now, but in reality, the classic Italian cocktail has only gone mainstream in the last nine months or so. Not only is it now a common sighting on bar menus, it’s actually quite rare to find a bar that wouldn’t know what you’re talking about if you ordered “off menu”.
With gin and vermouth exploding in popularity, new styles, fresh takes and old classics are being created up and down the country. There is a wealth of combinations to explore (even if you stick to the equal part formula), but here are six Negronis variations that will have you thinking about what can only be described as the perfect aperitivo. From classic to adventurous, use this list as inspiration for what to try next.
The Classic Negroni
Classic Negronis deliver a mercurial combination of bitter, fruity and juniper-laced tones all in one go. Accentuated by an orange peel garnish, there is citrus lift on the nose before the barrage of flavours dance across your mouth. For a classic combination, try Sipsmith Gin with Dolin Rouge and Campari.
The London Dry Gin is smooth, juniper forward and multifaceted in its own right; but crucially, it brings a classically styled flavour profile to the mix. Dolin Rouge is one of the most overlooked quality vermouths on the market – it’s perfectly balanced combining bittersweet sarsaparilla, winter spices and a dry finish, ideal for Negronis.
The Indulgent Negroni
Sometimes, you want a lot of depth to a Negroni as well as some weight on the mouthfeel. Picking the right gin to do this is only half of the answer if you really want to achieve greatness. Begin with Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth for its slightly syrupy profile of dried fruits, cherries and a touch of cinnamon.
Then, choose a gin that’s both unusual and that will stand up to heavier nature of its partner. Two Birds Sipping Gin is a double wooded gin, which sees the distillery’s Old Tom Gin undergo a unique maturation using a combination of virgin pecan wood and small European casks.
The gin is sweet, delicious and at 47.5% ABV, matches the vermouth to perfection. The richness and complexity of this deep ruby and ambered Negroni will have your senses titillating with excitement while also delivering a carefully contemplative mix.
The Light & Lively Negroni
Both Martin Miller’s Gin and Belsazar Vermouth Rosé offer lighter, fresher takes on their respective categories, but without compromising on taste. Pink grapefruit, orange blossom, raspberries and redcurrants bring out the flavourful top notes of the Rosé Vermouth, which are perfectly matched in Martin Miller’s bright and buoyant flavours.
With Campari in the mix, the citrusy aspects are accentuated and the trio create a light, lively Negroni, aptly nicknamed a Pink Negroni, that’s impeccable for pairing with canapés.
The Aromatic Negroni
Mancino Rosso Amaranto Vermouth is made using 38 botanicals including rhubarb root, juniper berries, orange zest, cloves and myrrh. When paired with Swedish made Herno London Dry Gin, it compliments the big meadowsweet flavours inherent to all of the distillery’s gins – creating an aromatic, almost medicinal combination.
As a pre-dinner combination, this will whet your appetite perfectly, but when served with Manchego cheese, quince or cured meats – it positively supreme.
The Fragrant Negroni
Aperol is another alternative to Campari. It’s slightly sweeter, has less forceful herbal tones and about half the alcohol content. When used in a Negroni, we find that it works best with lively almost perfumed gins such as G’Vine Nouaison. The gin adds a beautiful heady aroma of soft flowers and grapes, but still has juniper at it’s core.
This works well with the Aperol but to round off the trilogy, try Cocci Storico Vermouth di Torino. The Vermouth is both immensely complex with fruity liquorice and a slight smokiness – but it’s not overpowering. In this combination, it helps anchor the Aperol and G’Vine duo, which would otherwise lack a firm backbone to make a Negroni that really resonates.
The Delicate Negroni
Campari is not for everyone and for those who don’t like Negronis, the bitter orange aperitif is usually the cause of their scrupled faces. If that sounds like you, fear not, you can still make a Negroni – you just need to change the style of vermouth and the choice of “bitters”.
For a more delicate mix, try equal parts of Shortcross Barrel Aged Gin, Lillet Blanc Dry Vermouth and Suze in a White Negroni. The aromatic Gentian notes of Suze, combined with its honey like sweetness add depth to the soft and fruity Lillet Blanc. Shortcross Barrel Aged Gin harnesses both of these elements and with its mellow wood, fruity berries and underlying leafy tones, is a match made in heaven.
You can meet the Master Distillers behind each of these gin brands at Gin Foundry’s gin festival, Junipalooza, taking place on 11 and 12 June 2016. To book tickets visit YPlan. Highlights at Junipalooza include Olivier’s masterclasses, meeting dozens of makers who have flown in from all over the world, as well as exclusive gin launches from established British names.
Olivier Ward, editor of Gin Foundry, is the resident gin expert on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, and co-host of the acclaimed gin festival Junipalooza. Olivier is renowned for having a holistic view on how gin works, both in its making, the way it is brought to market and how best to pair it in your glass.
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