(Fizzy) Negroni Week

negroni

Hurrah, it’s Negroni Week, I thought it would never come.  Did you know, in Venice it is not legally considered to be summer until Negroni week (2-8 June)?  No?  That’s because I just made that up.  Despite what you might think Negroni week is not an age old celebration of all things bitter and difficult, it was in fact invented by Imbibe magazine (and Campari) in err 2013.

Anyway, I’m not a big Negroni fan (I have tried, honest) but couldn’t let this momentous occasion pass without comment, so here is my recipe for a Fizzy Negroni (makes 1 litre or 8 125ml servings):

  1. Combine 300ml gin, 30oml Campari and 300ml sweet vermouth in a mixing glass and add 100ml of water (to account for the dilution you would normally get from stirring).
  2. Stir well and add to a soda siphon.
  3. Charge the siphon with CO2 and then discharge into small bottles (Schweppes’ 125ml minis are perfect).
  4. Cap and refrigerate.
  5. Serve with a bottle opener and a straw.
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Right Hand / Left Hand

I picked up a bottle of the ever-so exotically named Xocolatl Mole Bitters today, a cacao and cinnamon based cocktail bitter which is a staple of a number of Central American influenced cocktails.

Xocolatl Mole is named for the Aztec word xocolātl (meaning “bitter water”) which became known in the English-speaking world as chocolate; and mole (or mōlli), a traditional form of Mexican sauce.  As you would expect, therefore, the bitters have a strong flavour of spiced chocolate with prominent cinnamon and chili notes.

A sploosh or two of Xocolatl Mole is a key ingredient in a number of recipes; the most famous of which is the Right Hand, a rum-based Negroni or Boulevardier variant, which is given distinctive chocolate notes by the bitters.

The Right Hand appears to be a recent invention and is credited to Michael McIlroy, bartender at New York’s twin bars Milk and Honey and Little Branch, as recently as 2007.

  1. Add a large measure of aged rum to a mixing glass of ice.
  2. Add a measure of sweet vermouth, Campari and two splooshes of Xocolatl Mole bitters.
  3. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass.

The most popular variant of the Right Hand is the Left Hand, which is made with bourbon in place of rum, and a lemon or orange variant of either can be made by including a sploosh or two of the respective bitters and a twist of peel.

Negroni

The Negroni is a love it/hate it gin-based cocktail invented in 1920’s Florence by Fosco Scarselli at the behest of Count Camillo Negroni who ordered an “Americano con gin”.  Instead of getting a disturbing take on the Irish coffee, the Count was given a refreshing Campari and sweet vermouth drink with the added kick of a measure of gin, which Orson Welles described a perfectly balanced: “the bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you.  They balance each other.”

While the Negroni is nominally an aperetif, due to its use of  Campari, it can be a little brutal to an empty stomach, belying its light fruity and botanical nose.  But don’t worry, the bitters are excellent for your liver!

The classic Negroni is made as follows:

  1. Pour a measure each of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth into a mixing glass.
  2. Fill the glass 2/3 full of ice and stir for sixty seconds.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a slice of orange or lemon.

Popular variations include the Sbagliato (wrong) Negroni (with prosecco instead of gin), the Boulevardier (with bourbon instead of gin) and the Negroski (vodka instead of gin).