Forget The Vermouth And Use Beet Juice For A Uniquely Sweet Negroni

The classics are "classics" for a reason — but if your go-to negroni is starting to get a little predictable, switch it up with a simple swap: Sub the vermouth for beet juice. A classic negroni combines equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari (plus the trademark orange twist garnish). Sweet vermouth is a complex fortified wine with a sweet, spiced, herbal profile, making beet juice a fitting substitute. 

The vegetable's funky, earthy, sweet yet "dirty" flavor adds unexpected dimensionality to a bitter negroni. Beet juice is also a natural fit for this cocktail balance-wise. When swapping alcoholic ingredients for non-alcoholic substitutes, it's typically necessary to adjust the proportions to maintain an even sip. A 1:3 spirit-to-mixer ratio is customary for full-spirited drinks, but for less-punchy N.A. mixers, a 1:1 ratio is more balanced. Conveniently, in the case of the negroni, the drink already calls for a 1:1:1 ratio of ingredients, meaning mixologists don't have to think twice when implementing this beet-iful upgrade.

To make a beet negroni, combine the beet juice, Campari, and gin in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Then, strain into a rocks glass and enjoy. Feel free to exercise the same creative liberty with your garnishes here. A green apple slice, orange wheel, star anise, lemon twist, or a few fresh blueberries would all make flavorful finishers.

How to customize your beet negroni

Just as you might tailor a full-proof cocktail, there are different ways of customizing your beet negroni once you've swapped the vermouth and beet juice. To let the earthy flavor of the beet juice shine in your negroni, opt for a London Dry gin like Beefeater or Tanqueray. If you prefer a sweeter sip, Old Tom gin could be the way to go. Or, Plymouth gin would add an aromatic, slightly fruity, botanical complement to the beet juice.

You could juice your own beets in a juicer or use a store-bought blend, such as beet-apple-carrot juice. Just steer clear of using the juice from canned beets, as it can impart a slight metallic taste to your cocktail.

To keep your negroni on the brighter side, stick with Campari. But, to bring out the beets' vegetal, "dirty" flavor, you could try using Cynar (an amaro made from artichoke hearts) instead. If this beet negroni finds its way into your regular cocktail rotation, it could be worth it to pick up a few complementary ingredients to keep on hand. Lemon and thyme bitters could make delicious additions. A pinch of fresh vanilla bean would bring out the beets' natural sweetness. 

This beet juice negroni also makes a great brunch cocktail. Pair it with a goat cheese and spinach quiche. Or, serve it as a fun, playful cocktail hour sipper with prosciutto, fig jam, seedy crackers, and Manchego cheese on a charcuterie board.