Negronis At Jonatha Benno's Lincoln

Lincoln's mix-and-match Negronis

Made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, the traditional Negroni is one of the easiest cocktail recipes to remember, which has made it our unflagging friend at many dubious bars.

But in the right hands, a Negroni can be so much more than an old standby. Aaron Von Rock, the wine director at Lincoln Center's opulent new Lincoln restaurant, understands this as well.

In addition to a broad selection of Italian wines and beers, Von Rock has added a curious section to the drinks menu entitled "ora felice" (happy hour).

Three columns are populated with an assortment of spirits, bitter aperitivi (Campari and the like) and vermouth; the diner picks one of each to comprise their bespoke Negroni, served up or on the rocks.

While experimentation and tweaking is encouraged–add Prosecco for a Negroni spumante; skip the spirit and have yourself a less-potent Americano–Von Rock has found some especially successful combinations.

For the Negroni newbie, try Charbay blood orange vodka with Aperol and Lillet Blanc–a barely bitter trio of orangey elixirs. For something with both punch and polish, combine Plymouth gin with Cardamaro (a cardoon-scented bitter) and Cinzano sweet vermouth.

Von Rock's favorite lineup: Bluecoat gin, Aperol and Carpano Antica vermouth, which displays "a long delineation of flavor" best enjoyed at sunset while watching the light play in the Lincoln Center courtyard.

Lincoln, 142 W. 65th St.; 212-359-6500 or