Andrea is a vegetarian domestic cook who is passionate about the power of plants.
The Perfect Aperitif
The Negroni is a distinctive choice for anyone looking through the options of a cocktail menu. Its sharp bitter taste and strong alcohol content make it the perfect drink to begin a social outing, especially within a restaurant setting.
With lockdown still ongoing in the UK it's been impossible for this social experience to happen. However, mixing this great drink from home can bring a cultural uplift to the mundane compromise of socialising over zoom calls. After reading this article you will be able to produce this cocktail in no less than a minute—and hopefully have an improved understanding of what makes this drink the perfect aperitivo (or aperitif).
- 25 millilitres campari
- 25 millilitres vermouth rosso
- 25 millilitres blood orange gin
- 1 slice of a large orange
- 2 ice cubes
- Place the ice cubes in a small whiskey-style glass. Slice a segment of the orange, about one-eighth (1/8) of a large orange. To increase the zesty bitterness of the drink, add a spiral of orange zest into the glass. Take a short and sharp knife and rotate the orange in a downward spiral.
- Mix in the 25ml shots of each of the three alcohols. Not in any particular order.
- A Negroni is stirred, not shaken. Take a thin teaspoon and stir until all the alcohol becomes a consistently rich red colour.
L'Aperitivo: A Great Italian Tradition
For those who are uncertain on the concept of an aperitivo, simply put, it's an aperitif, or appetiser. However, in Italy its much more than that.
L'aperitivo is a great Italian tradition that has subsequently become adopted into European culture as a whole. It involves a social outing of the finest decree and details. It shares the same spontaneity of the English tradition of "fancy a pint after work?" but with an added minute dining experience. A beer could be an option; however, the usual beverage choices revolve around the desire of becoming peckish. The go-to aperitivo is the classic Aperol Spritz, but it doesn't quite give the same experience as a Negroni cocktail. The Negroni combines the bitter and the sweet of an Aperol Spritz, or a Campari Soda, but adds a strength that makes a beautiful anti-pasta platter even more appetising.
The Bitter: Campari
The aperitivo aspect of the Negroni lies within this ingredient. Campari is what makes the drink bitter, and adds the first element of cleansing your palate and kick-starting your appetite. Consuming something bitter before a meal has a great impact on hunger regulation and digestion as a whole. Biologically, bitter food and drinks provide the action of increasing saliva in the mouth and acid in the stomach. Therefore if you were to eat a caloric dense meal, such as a large cheese pizza for example, your digestive system will have a much easier time breaking down the food. Furthermore, making beautifully tasting meals that more enjoyable.
In terms of brand choice for this ingredient stick to the original classic. It's tempting to go for the cheaper off-brand alternative in Aldi or Lidl but the original has been popularly consumed since its in origin in 1860 for a very good reason. In terms of price you would only save a couple of pounds here and there with the off-brand choices as Campari itself tends to go for a reasonable £15.
The Sweet: Vermouth Rosso
Vermouth is a truly flavoursome addition to this cocktail. It's rich flavour battles yet compliments the bitter aspects of the other ingredients. As well as being a fantastic cocktail mixer, vermouth is a versatile alcohol that can easily be consumed by itself. For those who have yet to experience its delicious taste, vermouth is an aromatic fortified wine that can come in a variety of colours. Its white variant is often used in recipes for the delicious Italian dessert classic tiramisu. However, it's strongly advised to use the red, or rosso, version when making a Negroni cocktail. Its flavour complex and colour provide a consistency to the cocktail.
There are many brands of vermouth available, and no matter where you shop it's very cheap! It's relative to your average supermarket wine value of £7 but with an increase of alcohol percentage and flavour. The top brand of vermouth, Cinzano, is tough to beat and is readily available for less than £8.
The Strength: Blood Orange Gin
Gin is truly the defining ingredient of the Negroni. Without it, it would be very similar to a Campari Soda.
The true origin of the cocktail has its contention amongst the cocktail historians out there. However, the widely accepted narrative involves a caffe in Florence and a count who has the same name of the cocktail: Count Camillo Negroni. The story tells of the count asking for gin in his favourite cocktail rather than the mixer of soda water. Sounds like he was having a terrible day and was in need of a stiff drink. Maybe he did, and maybe he didn't. Regardless, he wanted to strengthen his favourite cocktail, and gin provides that objective perfectly.
Using blood orange infused gin is not a necessity in the Negroni recipe. Any fine dry gin will work perfectly. The use of blood orange gin in this recipe is down to personal preference from experimenting different mixes. It may not surprise you that using blood orange flavouring intensifies the natural flavour of the orange slice in the drink, and subsequently makes the drink both more bitter and sweeter. There are great options for blood orange gin available. If you're looking for quality on a budget, you can pick up a bargain on a truly great tasting bottle of Beefeater blood orange gin for no less than £14.
I'd just like to take a moment to express how important it is to enjoy this great tasting cocktail responsibly. An upside to the lockdowns is we've had more time to experiment and experience new things, especially in the kitchen. Unfortunately for a lot of people the mundane reality we're currently living in has been resolved by consuming alcohol in an unhealthy manner. Don't make a habit of it. Use this recipe for an occasion, or at the very least, for a once-a-week blowout. Cook a giant and beautiful meal with your loved ones within your household, and enjoy a Negroni responsibly before you dig in. Just like it was intended to be consumed . . . as the perfect aperitivo.
© 2021 Andrea Sciambarella