The Smoky Rim You Should Try Adding To Negronis

One part gin, one part Campari, and one part sweet vermouth — that's the magic ratio for a classic Negroni, the century-old classic that has everyone going stir-crazy. While the cocktail is usually strained into a rocks glass with ice and a twist of orange peel, the Negroni's allure has inspired a host of variations that swap spirits, add bubbly, or even chill the cocktail. But, now there's one more trick to jazz up the tipple, and that's by introducing a smoky rim. 

Although decorative rims aren't characteristic of Negroni, they are iconic of cocktails like the margarita, Sidecar, and Bloody Mary. Interestingly, all rims can be traced to one bartender. Dating back to 1855, Imbibe reports that Joseph Santini introduced the sugar-rimmed Brandy Crusta, which intrigued fellow bartender Jerry Thomas, who featured the nouveau technique in the first bartender's handbook. Since then, rims have been worked into cocktails as a means of enhancing aesthetics, adding texture, and even creating depth.

Currently, the realm of rims goes way beyond sugar or salt. In fact, Punch shares that some mixologists are using colorful popping candy or powdered drink mix. For savory garnishes, there's no shortage of options either. From pepper to Tajín and everything in between, there's an excitement in this renaissance of the cocktail rim, which is why there's no better time than the present to create the perfect rim for an herbaceously spiced Negroni.

Rim the glass with barbecue rub

Smoking is a great way to add dimension and balance flavors, however, sometimes it can overwhelm delicate nuances in a cocktail, according to VinePair. Luckily, a bit of haziness can also be introduced by using smoky spirits like mezcal or — better yet — a smoky garnish. For just a whisper of char in your next Negroni, roll the rim of a rocks glass in barbecue rub. While it might sound crazy, hear us out.

Since a Negroni has such a bold and bitter profile, Nio explains that it needs to be paired with equally strong flavors, specifically ones that emphasize salt and umami in big ways. Because dry rubs include savory and earthy ingredients like salt, paprika, garlic, and pepper, these flavors can impart some smoky aromas and flavors, and even complement the earthy, spiciness of the vermouth. Likewise, the delicate dose of sugar in barbecue rubs also offsets some of the bitterness of the Campari.

However, if a glass isn't properly coated with seasoning, it could detract from the Negroni's punchiness. For the optimal rim, Thrillist recommends holding a glass at a 45-degree angle and dipping it in a liquid of your choice, making sure to wet a quarter-inch of the outer edge all around the glass. Repeat the process with the dry seasoning, tapping off any excess to ensure no seasoning falls into the glass. Alternatively, if you find the barbecue flavor is too intense, simply rim half the glass.