There is no doubt that the Negroni is the preferred house cocktail at Ampersand Distilling Co. Made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, it is a delicious bittersweet cocktail that can be served on the rocks or up. In honour of Father’s Day, and our resident dad Stephen’s favourite cocktail, I’m pleased to share with you some of the storied history of the Negroni.
Count Camillo Negroni is the supposed namesake of this beloved cocktail. He was a regular at Casoni Bar in Florence, Italy. He liked his Americanos (sweet vermouth and Campari, topped with soda), but one day ordered it with more of a kick. Fosco Scarselli replaced the soda for gin in response and it became the counts regular drink. It caught on with the other patrons who would ask for ‘Count Negroni’s drink’ and after a while just became the Negroni.
Colonol Hector Andres Negroni says this is all bunk, and that the real inventor of the Negroni was “General Pascale Oliver Comte de Negroni”. He’s not alone in this view, and there is evidence to suggest he invented this cocktail in the 1860’s in Africa, not Italy and that this wing of the family has the letters to back it up.
There are even more conflicting sources, but the earliest written evidence of the existence is not called the Negroni at all, but the “Campari Mixte” published in L’Heure de Cocktail in 1929, the ingredients of which are equal parts gin, Campari, and Italian vermouth with a lemon zest twist.
Regardless, we’re happy this combination came to be discovered. For further reading on the history of the Negroni I would point you to Simon Difford’s article on www.diffordsguide.com and Gaz Regan’s books “The Negroni: A Gaz Regan Notion”, “The Joy of Mixology”, and “The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita with Recipes & Lore”.
The Negroni has gone through many variations since it’s inception, and if you enjoy the classic I urge you to explore the legends of the past. We have one modern variation that we’re very fond of here at Ampersand, the BC Negroni.
With the advent of BC distilleries, we have seen so much creativity in the industry. With the launch of the Woods Amaro and Odd Society’s Bittersweet Vermouth we finally had the ingredients to put together a Negroni of our own. This drink seemed to hit the zeitgeist after BC Distilled 2016 and is garnished perfectly with a grapefruit instead of the traditional orange peel.
Whether you’ve got a modern or old fashioned kind of father, here’s to raising a glass to dad’s everywhere.
Jessica is a local writer & co-founder of Ampersand Distilling Company. www.ampersanddistilling.com
1 oz Ampersand Gin 1 oz Campari Bitter or Woods Amaro 1 oz Sweet Vermouth or Odd Society Bittersweet Vermouth
Build cocktail in a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with an orange or grapefruit twist.