The New Negroni Style
Maxim|September - October 2021
Why the world’s most gentlemanly cocktail has become more popular than ever
By Jared Paul Stern

When the Negroni trend first started to peak several years ago, it was still something of a “secret hand-shake” as Bon Appétit put it, a sign to bartenders, and fellow drinkers, that you were a man of substance, well traveled and wise to the ways of the world. Now we have an annual Negroni Week and whole bars dedicated to amaro, the bitter liqueur that makes up the classic Negroni’s key component—the other two being gin and vermouth—and yet the Negroni has somehow only increased in insider status, blossoming into a symbol of personal style for well-dressed gentlemen everywhere.

How has the Negroni kept from being bastardized? For one thing, with its potent combination of spirits, devoid of mixer or any other non-alcoholic nonsense, it is unlikely to appeal to the casual drinker. Not nearly as accessible as its crowd-pleasing cousin, the Aperol Spritz, the Negroni is content to be appreciated by a more discerning class of drinker. And during the pandemic, it seems to have acquired an even more dedicated following, following the New York Times having declared it the “perfect cocktail for 2019.”

As The Rake wrote recently, “When 2020 happened and the lockdowns began, the Negroni somehow gained a different and, to us, even more important significance. It became a symbol of resistance against the encroaching darkness. It was almost as if, amid the miasma of confusion, its bright red color stood out like a steadfast beacon of solidarity. More and more around the world, it seemed like Negronis were raised almost like defiant middle fingers at the COVID pandemic, as if to say it would not crush our spirits.”

Two new books on the iconic cocktail, which is said to have been invented in Florence in 1919 (though accounts vary), when an aristocratic souse named Count Negroni asked his favorite bartender to make him a stronger version of an Americano by substituting gin for soda water—are adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. What all can agree on is the proportions of the classic Negroni—equal parts gin, bitter liqueur, and red vermouth. Campari is the traditional bitter used for the drink, though these days it is often substituted.

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