This Thing Now: Meletti 1870 Bitter For Negroni Week

Kick off Negroni Week with this crimson-hued aperitivo

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Negroni Week kicks off today, providing an excuse to celebrate the classic cocktail while raising money for charitable causes around the world.

The drink has just three components: gin, vermouth and Campari. Though the cocktail can be endlessly customized by swapping in your favorite gin (or other spirit) or vermouth (or other fortified wine), there hasn't yet been a satisfying alternative to Campari, that crimson, bitter-edged Italian aperitivo.

Enter Meletti 1870 Bitter ($26). A new recipe from an old-school Italian spirits producer (1870 refers to the year the distillery was founded in Ascoli Piceno), this Italian bitter features the same vibrantly rosy hue that makes Negronis such a joy to drink. One sip in, and it's undeniably complex, revealing grapefruit and bitter orange peel followed by cinnamon and clove sparks.

1870 Bitter enters the field alongside Leopold Bros. Aperitivo ($33), a Denver-made aperitivo that derives its red color from cochineal (a natural colorant derived from, well, crushed insects), along with the rhubarb-forward Gran Classico Bitter ($35), which has been around for some time. But both bottlings can be hard to find; 1870 will be more widely distributed.

We'll raise our glass (and keep it there all week) to that.