Everything You Need To Know About The Negroni Sbagliato

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While the classic Negroni has been trendy for several years now, if you're not a fan, you're not alone. Even those who rave about it, like The New York Times and Epicuriousdo admit that it's awfully bitter, while VinePair notes that the cocktail is actually not too popular in its native land as many Italians don't care for the flavor. Well, there's no need to tweak your tastebuds! You now have a second chance to hop on a viral cocktail fad that transforms the classic Negroni into something lighter, bubblier, and yes, not quite as bitter: the Negroni sbagliato.

If you've been following your booze news lately, you've undoubtedly seen all kinds of buzz over this what's turning out to be fall's hottest new (or newly rediscovered) drink. So newsworthy is the Negroni sbagliato at present that Hoda Kotb and Willie Geist even imbibed during a recent episode of the Today show (the Negroni sbagliato isn't too alcoholic, so it's actually fairly well suited for a brunch drink). Geist's verdict was "it is tasty," while all Hoda managed before the clip ended was "mmm ... okay." Even if these two didn't exactly give it a rave review, the drink hardly needs their endorsement at this point. It's already off and running to the point where bartenders in New York (and elsewhere) are running through Campari and Prosecco like there's no tomorrow (or "Today," for that matter).

How do you make a Negroni sbagliato?

The Negroni sbagliato, like the classic Negroni, starts off with a base of Campari, which is a crimson-hued Italian liqueur known for its exceptionally bitter flavor. While Campari may easily be mistaken for the similar Aperol, it's both stronger and more medicinal-tasting than this other Italian liqueur. The sbagliato, like the original Negroni, also contains sweet vermouth, which is actually a fortified wine and not a liqueur (and, like a wine, it won't last all that long once it's opened, so you might as well put it to use making cocktails).

Where the Negroni and its sbagliato variant part ways, however, is with the third ingredient: a Negroni is made with gin, thus doubling down on both the bitter and boozy elements, while the sbagliato swaps out that spirit for lighter, sweeter, and lower-alcohol Prosecco. To make it, all you need to do is pour a shot of Campari and a shot of vermouth over ice in a rocks glass, then fill it up to the top with Prosecco. An orange slice makes a cute, but optional, garnish.

While the original Negroni is what's known as a spirit-forward drink (booze on booze on booze) that Lyre's says comes in around 24% ABV, the sbagliato isn't such a heavy hitter. As per Primo Aperitivo, such a drink is more likely to be around 13% ABV even though it, too, contains no non-alcoholic mixers.

The drink was created as a happy little accident

If you're fluent in Italian, you may get a giggle out of the name "Negroni sbagliato," or at least the last part. Sbagliato, it seems, means "mistake," and the epithet is a reference to the drink's origin story. Before we recount that tale, though, let's rewind a bit to the creation of the original Negroni. It seems that this drink, too, started off as a riff on another drink, that being the Americano. While this drink is made with vermouth, bitters, and soda, an Italian bartender swapped the soda for gin at the request of a hard-drinking customer back in 1919. Hey presto, and fast forward a century, and now the Negroni is all over Instagram.

The sbagliato "oopsie" happened over five decades later, when, as per the Mirror, a disco-era bartender (again, an Italian one) grabbed a bottle of Prosecco instead of the gin needed to make a Negroni, and thus was a new drink created. If this doesn't sound like an easy mistake to make (sparkling wine comes in a totally different type of bottle, after all) John Cusimano (aka Mr. Rachael Ray) has his suspicions, as well. In an article he wrote for his wife's website, he theorizes that the drink may owe its creation to the fact that the bar simply ran out of gin. Whether created by accident or on purpose, though, the sbagliato definitely falls under the category of a happy little discovery.

How it went viral

In late September 2022, HBO Max posted a short video on YouTube to promote its new Game of Thrones prequel, "House of the Dragon." In it, stars of the show Olivia Cooke and Emma D'Arcy take turns asking each other "getting to know you" questions. While this could have been just another ho-hum promo, it was totally transformed by the stars' flirty vibe. One brief interchange, in particular, was clipped and snipped by countless TikTokers to the point where it's now become a meme: Cooke asks D'Arcy what their favorite drink is, and D'Arcy slowly replies, "a Negroni [Cooke cuts in "I was going to say the same thing," but D'Arcy's not done]... sbagliato... with Prosecco in it."

Despite D'Arcy's muffing the pronunciation — aperitivo expert Jessica King points out to Good Morning America that the word should be said "spal-yagh-toh without really pronouncing that 'g' in the middle" — anything getting turned into a TikTok meme is enough to grant it at least short-term popularity, As The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, not long after TikTok clips of D'Arcy's drink order started trending, searches for "Negroni sbagliato" increased by almost 5,000%. It's not just TikTok driving the new Negroni spagliato fad, though. Them notes that the meme has really caught on with the LGBTQ+ community, as D'Arcy is nonbinary and their chemistry with Cooke is pretty palpable. Plus, in the words of one Twitter user, "you can't spell neGroni sBagLiaTo with Prosecco without L G B T."

Bars and restaurants that serve it

So where can you order fall's hottest drink? As Jessica King tells Good Morning America, "Ordering a sbagliato at most bars shouldn't be a challenge, provided they carry an aperitivo such as Select or Campari, they have stored their vermouth properly, and they have a fresh bottle of bubbles for the popping." Still, though, this isn't something you should try asking for at Applebee's (dollar sbagliatos have yet to become a thing), nor are sbagliatos likely to be available at your corner shot-and-beer bar. If you want to make sure you'll find the Negroni sbagliato on the menu, or at least in the bartender's repertoire, one place you'll definitely find it is at King's own bar, Brother Wolf, in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Hint: no need to order your drink "with Prosecco" as it's a standard ingredient.)

Another place you can for sure get a Negroni sbagliato is Philadelphia's Martha — beverage manager Daniel Miller tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that the drink "ha[s] been a favorite drink of mine for years, so it does make me happy that there is finally attention on it." It's also big in New York City, as Harper's Bazaar reports that Cathédrale at Moxy East Village, Bar Calico, and Georgia Room have all seen quite a bump in sales, while Boston's Bar Volpe makes a version with black truffle. On the West Coast, the Negroni sbagliato is one of a number of Negroni variants available at Bar Toscana Brentwood.

You can even get Negroni sbagliato merch

Once anything hits meme level, can merch be far behind? Not in the case of the Negroni sbagliato. If you're a fan, you can proclaim your passion to the world by wearing a T-shirt (Etsy offers a wide variety) bearing the drink's name and image (or D'Arcy's), plus, in many cases, D'Arcy's superfluous-yet-sexy specification "with Prosecco in it." Not in need of another T-shirt? How about a hat? These are available from both Etsy and RedBubble, while the latter site offers a number of sbagliato-themed stickers, as well. Novel Mart, too, has hopped on this latest merchandising trend with a line of "sbagliato"-emblazoned (just the words, no image) shirts, sweats, tote bags, towels, and swimwear.

One thing you need not spend a dime on, however, is this Amazon Kindle offering with the lengthy title: "Negroni Sbagliato Recipe — 'With Prosecco in it' : How to make the Emma D'Arcy drink of choice that's buzzing the internet." Apparently, some enterprising author is hoping people will pay $2.99 for the recipe, but, ha, we already gave it to you for free. In case you've been skipping slides, scroll back up to the second one, then click on the link to our very own recipe.

There are many other Negroni variations

Whether or not you love Negronis in their original form or their super-popular sbagliato-fied version, you may want to experiment with some of the other variants out there (we've rounded up a dozen). If you're wondering just how far you can stray from the basic Negroni recipe, in most cases, the Campari and vermouth are must-haves, but the spirit itself is swappable. One popular variant is the mescal Negroni, where you-know-what is swapped out for gin. (You could try it with tequila, too, if that's what you have on hand.)

Other well-known drinks that ditch the gin are the Boulevardier, which is made with bourbon, and the Old Pal, made with rye. The latter drink introduces us to another permitted tweak: You can use dry vermouth in place of the sweet stuff without losing your Negroni card. Additional variants include adding an extra ingredient: The Dear Jane is basically a plain old Negroni with the addition of a little "bartender's ketchup," aka St. Germain elderflower liqueur, while the Gloria not only replaces the sweet vermouth with dry but also adds Cointreau. There are even a few Negronis that — gasp!! — ditch the Campari, thus putting them in a kind of grey area, Negroni-wise, but the Cynar Negroni and white Negroni at least replace the drink's signature ingredient with similar bitter-flavored liqueurs. For a double dose of trendy, though, you could do no better than the cold-brew Negroni made with Campari-infused coffee.