Oh, well — it was nice while it lasted. But it wasn’t really, was it? Call us uncultured, but we never really were bowled-over by the old Negroni. Unfortunately for us, the bright red king of Italian aperitivos has been causing something of a stir these past few years, springing up on every cocktail menu from Bergamo to Bermondsey. A ‘renegronaissance’, if you like. But we don’t like — we don’t like at all.
And here’s why. We’re pretty sure that people only pretended to like the Negroni because other, cooler people told them they should. There’s no way, when Florentine bartender Fosco Scarselli first mixed the heinous thing into existence back in 1919, that he thought people would still be drinking them by the bucketload in All Bar One a century later. Yet drink them they did. Two summers ago, you could hardly move for glasses of the stuff. Vinegary, venomous Negronis being sloshed by the sloshed; everyone having a merry old time wincing their way through mouthful after medicinal mouthful. But then, last year, we finally began to wise up.
“We never really were bowled-over by the old Negroni…”
Menus suddenly started adding more and more ingredients to the classic Negroni line-up of Campari, vermouth and gin. These were sold as ‘fun twists’ on the traditional. But they weren’t. They were the beginning of the end. We were nudging out the Negroni with chocolate bitters and passionfruit syrup. It was a sweet uprising, a flavour revolution, a coup d’etat fuelled by Crème de Noyaux.
And we beat our senseless addiction. We upended the status quo, rinsed it out and refilled it with something that didn’t taste like battery acid mixed with melted plimsolls. The Negroni had fallen. But, with one cocktail cut down, which other drink was to take its place? What would be this summer’s signature sipper? To find out, we’ve rounded up, mixed together and poured out five pretenders to the Negroni throne. And the best thing about these cocktails? You don’t need to have had three already just to get through your first…
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