Over in the United States, bitter-style cocktails have gained popularity at a staggering rate. It’s a simple recipe cocktail that combines bitters, gin and vermouth, generally served with citrus peel. When it comes to a cocktail that’s so simple any mistakes are far more obvious. So how do you make the perfect Negroni?
The answer is very simple. The quality of Negroni depends almost entirely on the quality of ingredients you choose. Two out of three are simple: the bitters must be Campari for the simple fact that it has a reputation for a reason – and that’s because it’s impeccably made; and the vermouth should be Noilly Prat Ambré, which is a play on the stylish dry French vermouth. Trading clear and dry for a tawny like sweetness and orange colour make it ideal for the Negroni. Martini Rosso is an okay alternative if you can’t source Noilly Prat’s rare Ambré.
The difficulty comes with the gin. Having only the first two ingredients will give you an Americano when mixed with soda water, but we want that dangerously alcoholic but appetite building and intensely aromatic Negroni. That means quality gin.
Now I did a long bit of searching for the best gins, trying Martin Miller’s incredibly crisp gin to the entry level London Drys like Gordon’s. Tanquery’s No. Ten was exceptional but you want something that has both the strength to match Campari and the clean, light citrus-focused botanicals that are perfect with Negroni.
So that meant trying independent gin maker 6 o’clock Gin from Bramley and Gage. Smooth and combining delicious elderflower notes with orange peel, plus even more aromatic floral character, means this is the ideal gin choice for Negroni. Crystal clear and made with precision, it’s also the top gin choice for drinking alone as a premium aperitif, too.
Here’s the recipe:
Fill a Tumbler with rock ice. Add one shot of 6 o’clock Gin to the glass, then give a quick stir so it settles with the ice. While continuing to mix, pour in one shot of Campari and one shot of Noilly Prat Ambré. Garnish with two strings of orange zest and slice an orange for the side of the glass.
For more servings, keep the ratio and up the shot count. Simple and very, very good.
Written & photographed by Ben Franks, www.benfrankswine.com, @Writer_Franks