The Classic Cocktail Anthony Bourdain Called The 'Perfect Mixed Drink'

Anthony Bourdain was no stranger to trying new drinks on his travels. After tasting so many regional and surprising drinks, you'd think his favorite would be a rare or highly refined beverage, but the late chef's drink of choice was the surprisingly simple classic negroni cocktail. A traditional negroni is made with one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and one part Campari and garnished with an orange twist. 

When speaking to Barron's, Bourdain praised the negroni as "the perfect drink." Coming from worldwide drinker Anthony Bourdain, that must mean there is something truly special about a negroni. "It's three liquors that I'm not particularly interested in," he explained, "but put them together with a slice of orange. It works. ... That first sip is confusing and not particularly pleasant. But, man, it grows on you."

For Bourdain, the choice of a negroni was a tip of the hat to classic mixology culture. The punchy and bitter flavors of the negroni set the cocktail apart from others, offering drinkers a chance to dissect its unique flavor profile as the drink grows on them, just like it did with Bourdain.

History and variations of the negroni

It is believed the negroni was invented in 1919, in Florence Italy. Purportedly created in Caffè Casoni by Count Camilo Negroni, the negroni (drink not the person) was invented when Count Negroni asked a bartender friend to strengthen his americano beverage — the cocktail, not the coffee. Bartender friend Forsco Scarselli swapped the typical soda water of an Americano with gin, creating the signature well-known cocktail we have today. After the local success of the new drink, Count Negroni created the Negroni Distillery where pre-made mixes of the cocktails were bottled and sold.

The negroni intrigued patrons with its balance of gin and bitters. While the gin burned, the bitters seemed to aid in digestion. The Americano, which the drink originated from, used a lemon twist and club soda instead of the orange twist and gin. Variations of the negroni today include the negroni sbagliato, which had its moment thanks to "House of Dragon ” actor Emma D'Arcy. This variation replaces the gin with prosecco, mimicking the bubbling texture of the original Americano.

Another variation of the negroni is the classic white negroni, which follows the same ratio as the traditional negroni but uses gin, Suze, and Lillet blanc, and is garnished with a lemon twist. This is a lighter and more floral version of the traditional negroni and offers sweeter-tasting notes for those who dislike the bitter taste of a traditional one.