Italy's Self-Deprecating Version Of The Negroni Cocktail

Sophisticated with a timelessly chic cool factor. Introducing the Negroni cocktail, ravishingly ruby-red in a rocks glass. The classic Negroni recipe includes a fairly straightforward lineup of ingredients: gin, vermouth, Campari (all in equal parts), and, sometimes, an orange peel. The Campari adds bitterness and red color, and the vermouth and gin keep it dry and botanical. But, like in many simpler cocktails, the quality of the ingredients matters a little more than usual when the recipe is so stripped down. With Negronis, there isn't even a mixer to hide behind — which also makes for a pretty rocking ABV. (20-29%, says Gin Observer.)

Still, total piety to the classic, simple recipe is unnecessary to create a successful Negroni. (We love an unfaithful adaptation.) There are a handful of variations different mixologists employ to customize their Negronis. You can switch it up by swapping gin for mezcal or try out the Boulevardier cocktail, which subs in bourbon (per Liquor.com). But, the Negroni is an Italian cocktail through and through — and, fittingly, Italy has a self-deprecating version of it.

The Mistaken Negroni

The Negroni originated in 1919 at Caffè Casoni in Florence, Italy. The alleged story goes that the cocktail was invented by somebody called Count Camillo Negroni, who accidentally created the drink by ordering an Americano with gin instead of soda water, per Lyre's. Considering this supposed origin story, the Negroni was a cocktail born of substitution. So, it doesn't seem like it should matter too much which ingredients you substitute or omit when making your own version... or should it?

Without further ado: the Negroni Sbagliato. In it, gin is replaced by sparkling white wine. Doesn't seem like a huge deal, right? Think again. Mixologist John Cusimano writing for Rachael Ray explains that "Negroni Sbagliato" is Italian for "Mistaken Negroni." Cusimano theorizes that the cocktail got its start "because the bartender either ran out of gin or mistakenly added Prosecco." While the Negroni Sbagliato might not seem like a super far cry from a mezcal or bourbon varietal, if you stop into an Italian cocktail bar, your mixologist might have a very different view on the matter.