The Origin Story Of The Negroni

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In Gary Regan's book "The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita," Regan, an experienced bartender, points to 1919 as the official date of the creation of the Negroni. Anthony Bourdain might've described them best: "Well, those things hit you like a freight train after four or five, and I dimly recall staggering into the kitchen to find one of my cameramen passed out on the floor at a very awkward angle with his head stuck in the freezer."

According to Conde Nast Traveler, the Negroni has found space on cocktail menus around the world thanks to the popularity of gin and bitters. With a one-to-one ratio, the drink is easy to make and has provided a simple foundation for bartenders to put their own spin on the recipe, like exchanging bourbon for gin or mixing rum with Campari and vermouth. After all, experimental swaps are really how the drink started in the first place (via Liquor).

One customer's substitution becomes a cemented recipe

The first Negroni was made by bartender Fosco Scarselli, who, eager to appease customers at his Caffè Casoni, turned up the volume on a traditional Americano recipe — bitters, vermouth, and soda — by replacing soda with gin (via Liquor). The customer in demand was an avid traveler and quite the character: evidently, he worked as a rodeo clown in the American Wild West (via The Rake). The recipe became a success, and the customer's family, with the last name of Negroni, ended up founding an Italian distillery where they made and sold Antico Negronis (per Chilled Magazine). 

As Orson Welles remarked in 1947, "The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other." You'll want to make sure you pour equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari to give your drink that unforgettable golden hue (via Difford's Guide). We have a tasty frozen Negroni recipe if you're looking to put your own unique twist on the recipe, or you can try a smokier flavor profile with this mescal version. Just don't forget the orange peel as a garnish.