Esquire (UK)

RAISE A GLASS!

TO THE NEGRONI

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The negroni — that perfect tripartite blend of gin, Campari and vermouth — celebrates its centenary this year. Well, maybe. “You know, the deep dive into negroni lore is tricky,” says Matt Hranek, author of the forthcomin­g book The Negroni: A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail. “It’s historical­ly really vague. That’s why I say in the book, ‘Listen, this is supposedly how it happened, and I’m just going to believe it. Right? Because it’s a good story.’”

The legend goes that a worldly Italian count — Count Camillo Negroni, no less! — wandered into the Cafè Casoni in Florence one day and asked for the soda that usually tops the Campari and red vermouth of an Americano to be swapped for gin. The bartender obliged and hey presto, an icon was born. (Oh, and this may or may not have taken place in 1919, but what’s a couple of years between friends?)

Hranek, for one, is not surprised that the cocktail has stayed the course for 100(ish) years. “It’s just one of those things, not unlike the martini, which is just so damn good from its creation,” he says. “It just works seamlessly on so many levels: aesthetics, flavour, punch, and you can have it at the beginning of a meal or at the end. Also, it’s not for amateurs. It’s a pro-level, adult-tastebud drink, you know?”

Assuming you’re already au fait with the classic negroni — all ingredient­s in equal measure — Hranek’s book will introduce you to 30 or so subtle and surprising riffs, including “Il Professore”: a negroni with an extra coffee kick that he came across at the Grand Hotel Vesuvio in Naples, the recipe for which you’ll find on the right. But whichever variation you go for, the effect, Hranek assures, will be the same: “The negroni just makes you happier, makes you feel brighter. The whole world gets brighter.” Sounds good, right?

The Negroni: A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail by Matt Hranek is published 24 May (Artisan)

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