30 July 2008

The Negroni

Cocktail Week continues with another great use for gin. The Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail from the early decades of the last century, named after Count Camillo Negroni who requested that gin be added to the Americano. It's a fairly simple recipe: equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet red vermouth, stirred and served with a twist of orange peel. This cocktail is traditionally poured over ice in a tumbler, though often in martini glasses in the US.

Campari is an Italian aperitif flavored with a proprietary mix of ingredients. A prominent flavor is orange peel, and it's got a wonderful bitter quality to it. The Italians say that you have to try it three times before you like it. Whether or not the ad campaign featuring the voluptuous Salma Hayek makes you appreciate it faster is an exercise left to the reader.

This cocktail is not for the faint of heart: I love it, but it's a baseball bat of bitterness hitting you square in the face. Part of that comes from the healthy dose of quinine, which, like tonic water, will fight off malaria. Nothing wrong with diluting it with club soda or sparkling wine to take off some of the edge.

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