The classic Negroni is an almost unbeatable cocktail. A delicate balance of sweet, bitter and botanical flavours always leaves you wanting more, and wishing you'd not finished it so fast. But what if we told you there eight other Negroni variations for you to discover out there?
Just like music, there's nothing quite like the original, but sometimes even try-hard DJs stumble upon a hit, and it's the same in bartending! Come and join us on an Italian-inspired tour that's got more twists and turns than the winding roads of Capri.
Here are the 8 best Negroni variations for this year...
1. White Negroni
Why not start with one of the most well-known variations on the Negroni, the White Negroni...
This clear, yellow-tinged cocktail really mixes it up, compared to the original. The only ingredient that manages to keep its place is the gin, as the Campari and sweet vermouth, lose out to Lillet Blanc and dry vermouth. But what of the flavour? Why do these two ingredients change things up so much?
Well, Lillet Blanc is a French wine-based aperitif, injecting floral, crisp notes into the cocktail. It's still bitter in taste, but a lot more subtle than a measure of Campari. However, if this doesn't satisfy your bitter-sweet cravings, then the dry vermouth is sure to tie it all up nicely, delivering the amaro taste . Once stirred up, you'll be sipping on a much lighter and crisper Negroni variation. The White Negroni recipe is simply delicious!
Ingredients: Gin, Lillet Blanc, dry vermouth
Flavour profile: Crisp, light, floral, botanical
2. Negroni Sbagliato
A tough one to pronounce for any non-Italian speaker, and it's in no way related to spaghetti, by the way.
The story around this Negroni variation is actually pretty interesting. It's a great example of a 'happy accident'. The Sbagliato originates from Milan, when a bartender added Prosecco into a Negroni instead of gin by mistake. Trying to avert bartending embarrassment, they turned around to grab the gin and make a new Negroni as quickly as possible. But it was too late! The customer had already tasted it and was absolutely loving it. The Negroni Sbagliato recipe had been born. In fact, this is where the 'Sbagliato' part comes from, meaning 'mistake' in Italian!
If you're not one for the taste of gin and prefer your Negroni a little lighter to consume, then this cocktail should rank high with you compared to the other Negroni variations on offer.
Ingredients: Prosecco, Campari, sweet vermouth
Flavour profile: Light, sweet, acidic
The first classic cocktail on our list, and what a fantastic Negroni variation it is!
Mixing together the classic sweet vermouth and Campari combination with rye whiskey (instead of gin), offers fans a much sharper taste. Rye whiskey is famous for its more ethanol-like taste which makes it the perfect partner for the other bitter-yet-sweet cocktail ingredients. Any overwhelming notes from the sweet vermouth and Campari are quickly nullified by the powerful flavours emanating from the whiskey. As well-balanced cocktails go, the Boulevardier is right up there!
For a slightly different taste, the Old Pal cocktail will also do you right. Whilst it keeps the rye whiskey and Campari, the sweet vermouth is replaced for dry. This adds a lighter, more acidic touch to the drink, otherwise dampened by the sweet vermouth.
Ingredients: Bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth
Flavour profile: Bitter, sharp, spicy
Sometimes Negronis can just be too strong. The gin quantity can really knock you back after three of the little buggers. Plus, it's a cocktail made entirely of different types of alcohol, so it's unsurprising it can be too much for some.
Here's where the Americano comes in...
The Americano cocktail recipe is made up of just two ingredients; Campari and sweet vermouth. And that's it! In fact, it was created for the exact reason above; people love the taste of Negronis - the bitter, sweet aromatic flavours of the two aperitifs together - but they're not so keen on the gin notes and high alcohol content.
If this sounds like you, then this will definitely be your new favourite drink. And with just two ingredients, it's also one of the easiest cocktails to make at home!
Enjoy the Americano with a splash of soda water, to lift the consistency a little. It's absolutely perfect for those summer sunsets.
Ingredients: Campari, sweet vermouth
Flavour profile: Sweet, bitter, aromatic
5. Cynar Negroni
Are you ready to discover your new favourite liqueur ever? You'd better be!
Think of artichokes and you'd probably recall an antipasti you sampled whilst travelling around Sicily. Would you ever consider artichoke liqueur? Probably not, but that's exactly what Cynar is. Yes, throw in a few more herbs and plant extracts, and you have yourself the famous Cynar flavour.
Cynar has a very herbal taste and is similar to that of other bitter aperitifs, like Campari. Although Cynar is actually considered sweeter than Campari, making it an excellent substitute for people who have a sweet tooth.
From its description and appearance, it may seem reminiscent of cough medicine-like Jägermeister, but you couldn't be more wrong. We think Cynar is the most underrated aperitif on every bartender's shelf, and it allows those of you who'd otherwise wouldn't drink a Negroni, to sample this iconic combination.
Ingredients: Gin, Cynar, sweet vermouth
Flavour profile: Sweet, herbaceous, botanical
Of all the Negroni variations we've mentioned, this is probably the biggest 'stretch' as it only contains one of the three classic ingredients. That being said, it's still one for Negroni lovers.
The Manhattan is a classic cocktail, that mixes Bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters together. This creates a very sharp cocktail, with a hint of sweetness.
Its origins are very mysterious, and there are many different stories and tales about how this unique cocktail came about. Rumour has it that someone created the Manhattan cocktail in New York City in the 1800s, but due to the hazy details, it's hard to really pinpoint the invention. Nevertheless, it's an excellent cocktail.
The inclusion of Bourbon and sweet vermouth means it's essentially a twist on the Negroni and Boulevardier combined. It's well worth exploring if you're a fan of edgier, taste-bud tingling flavours, in our opinion.
Ingredients: Bourbon, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters
Flavour profile: Sharp, bitter, herbaceous, spicy
7. Mezcal Negroni
Have you ever considered fusing Mexican and Italian cuisine together before? Probably not, and that's most likely for the better. But what about a Mexo-Italian cocktail?
Take one classic Negroni recipe and substitute the gin for mezcal, and you'll have yourself exactly this.
Mezcal is a spirit hailing from Mexico and is made with the agave plant, just like tequila. Mezcal isn't a type of tequila, more like the opposite, but still hold very similar flavours. So, why add this spirit to a Negroni? It's all to do with the flavour...
Just like with gin, the mezcal is there to balance the sweet and bitter flavours of the Campari and the sweet vermouth. Mezcal is very smoky and earthy in taste, with hints of ethanol. Mixed with the two other liqueurs, it's a match made in heaven! This is why the Mezcal Negroni recipe works so well. It's a wonderfully balanced cocktail, full of intrigue and alcohol. What's not to love?
If you really want to stir things up, try making the White Negroni with mezcal. Swap the gin for mezcal to make a crisp and smoky Negroni variation!
Ingredients: Mezcal, Campari, sweet vermouth
Flavour profile: Smoky, earthy, bitter, sweet
8. The Gloria
Let's finish this list with a proper Italian stunner.
Now, upon first appearances The Gloria doesn't look too different from the classic Negroni. So what you've added a bit of Cointreau and dry vermouth? What's the big deal?
Well, the 'big deal' is all to do with the measures.
The Gloria cocktail ramps up the gin, reduces the Campari measure and adds in two whole new ingredients. The result? An aromatic Negroni variation, fit for a fine summer's day on the Amalfi Coast.
With all these ingredients, it's a constant tug-of-war between each flavour the ingredients bring. The Cointreau mellows out the sharp dry vermouth, the sweet combination of Campari and dry vermouth dulls the alcoholic notes of the gin, and the gin adds edge to any overwhelming sweet flavours.
If you hadn't already guessed, it's one of the most intricate Negroni variations on our list, so it's a must try!
Ingredients: Gin, Campari, dry vermouth, Cointreau
Flavour profile: Tangy, bitter, botanical
Want to try making these Negroni cocktail variations behind the bar professionally? Take a look at our bartender course and get started on your new path. You'll be making the Mezcal Negroni and Negroni Sbagliato in no time!