Real love, like great cocktails, isn't all sweetness and intoxication.
Take the Negroni: The combination of gin and sweet vermouth would be sappy, one-dimensional and drab without the bitterness and color of Campari. Still, the Negroni allows plenty of room for improvisation.
Locanda's Negroni Flights ($20) showcase the effect gin variety has on the drink. The flight has three variations: One is made with the malty Bols Genever Dutch-style gin, the second is a classic stirred with Beefeater London Dry Gin, and the last is made with Aviation Gin, a contemporary style with lighter juniper flavors.
The Starlight Room serves an elegant and dazzling Carbonated Negroni ($22). Made and bottled in-house and served tableside, the sparkling drink is large enough for two to share.
Fifth Floor's Ode to the Negroni menu consists of five distinctive adaptations, including the Negroni Spagliato ($11). The drink is a riff on the Negroni Sbagliato, a variation whose name translates as "incorrect Negroni" because it swaps sparkling wine for the gin. The Fifth Floor takes it further, keeping the gin and adding a float of sparkling rosé.
A variation on a variation? How dare they! But if loving is wrong, we don't want to be right.
Locanda, 557 Valencia St. (at 17th St.), 415-863-6800 or locandasf.com; The Starlight Room, 450 Powell St. (at Sutter), 21st Floor, 415-395-8595 or harrydenton.com; Fifth Floor Restaurant, 12 Fourth St. (at Market); 415-348-1555 or fifthfloorrestaurant.com
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