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The return of the negroni: 10 places to drink the most requested classic cocktail


Highlights: The Negroni is one part red vermouth, one part bitter and one part gin. It was the most requested classic cocktail in 2022 according to Drinks International magazine, above the Old Fashioned, the Dry Martini and the Margarita. The cocktail was Jackie Kennedy's favorite and Luis Buñuel, more Calanda than peaches, had his own version —the buñueloni — of which he said was "a good stimulus for the imagination" In recent times, the vermouth and vermouth has become fashionable and people are surprised by its strength.

The combination of vermouth, bitter and gin lives its peak when 100 years have passed since its creation. We recommend ten bars in which to try it, and not only in its classic version: the negroni is dead, long live the negroni.

A negroni does not wear a watch. Neither should those who warm their throats with their bitter, sweet and powerful drink: although it has the label of appetizer, it fits well at any time and does not need much more company than that of their own enjoyment. Perhaps it is because this cocktail is itself composed of a trio whose relationship has survived for more than 100 years. In his case, one + one + one – one part red vermouth, one part bitter and one part gin – in a more than entrenched polyamorous relationship.

The simplicity of its elaboration, the elegance of that ruby color that characterizes it and all the mystique that surrounds it help: a cocktail without mystery ends up going from gaznate to oblivion. It is not exactly the case of a drink that, in addition, is marked by popular culture. It was Jackie Kennedy's favorite and our Luis Buñuel, more Calanda than peaches, had his own version —the buñueloni— of which he said was "a good stimulus for the imagination"; during the filming of Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn became thin (more) of sbagliatos (the version with sparkling) and Orson Welles was one of the first who, from Italy, sneaked his recipe to the American press, accompanied by a phrase that has gone down in history: "Bitters are great for the liver, gin is bad for you, so they balance each other." Evidently, it ran like wildfire.

It has come crashing down. Not as a child with excess sugar in his body, but as an adult who has discreetly waited for his moment to step forward. It was the most requested classic cocktail in 2022 according to Drinks International magazine, above the Old Fashioned, the Dry Martini and the Margarita. A revival that has arrived in its most classic cut, but also with subtle -and not so subtle- variations that respond to the very origin of the drink.

The Cowboy Count and a splash of gin

Florence, early twentieth century. Camillo Negroni approaches the Café Casoni and asks the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, an American -vermouth, Campari and soda- but with a splash of gin, to give it more packaging. Coming from Negroni, a guy who should be a count as well as a cowboy, the idea falls into the bar of Tornabuoni Street and goes from 'Negroni-style American' to Negroni to dry. In this mixology, many of the creations are born of an appetite and the appetites, like everything, can also be infected.

The first time it goes from its liquid to solid state in the form of a printed recipe is in the rarity Cocktails Portafolio by Amedeo Gandiglio of 1947, according to the research of cocktail experts such as David Wondrich, Luca Picci or François Monti. It had 1/3 Campari, 1/3 Grassoti Rosso vemouth and 1/3 gin, a slice of orange and a touch of seltzer. From here there are small variations in different titles of cocktails in which he loses the carbonated water: in El Bar of the Catalan Jacinto Sanfeliú of 1949, the soda is neither there nor expected. In the famous Floridita de La Habana of 'Constante' Ribailagua (1952), either.

Go back, to the bar, come back

What has this revival come to? It is something that comes from afar. The famous Campari and Martini campaigns of the 90s tried to revalue a drink that, yes, also flowed through the underworld of Italy. In fact, Luca Picci, in his bookNegroni Cocktail. An Italian Legend, tells that during the 80s, having a negroni in Tuscany was like having a whiskey with Red Bull in our 2000s (The Real Slim Shady through).

For Manu Iturregi, bartender of the Bilbao Residence, the return of the Negroni has a lot to do with the fact that "it is the iconic vermouth cocktail and vermouth has become fashionable". "In recent times people demand it only by name as an option at aperitif hours and sometimes they are surprised by its strength since they have heard of it, but have not tried it," adds the one from Bilbao. The mixologist Borja Insa confirms the theory – "in the cocktail sector, the trends are brutal" – from his Moonlight Experimental Bar in Zaragoza, where the cocktails of creation are the protagonists of the menu but which also attend "authentic parishioners of the classics, such as the Negroni. Classic cocktails will never die; Before the bars will die, which I hope I will never see."

Where to drink it

A Negroni is generous: he gives his scheme for others to imagine, exchange and add ingredients that elevate him with tact – all classics are sensitive. With the help of those who spread this cocktail both in front of and behind the bars, we have collected 10 versions of Negroni that you can try in Spain and that, at least, will make you rejoice in what lasts a glass. This will depend on you. You already know that a Negroni never wears a watch.

The Bitter is Better of 1862 Dry Bar (Madrid)

One of Esther Medina-Cuesta's favorites is the twist that Alberto Martínez and his family have done at the 1862 Dry Bar in Madrid: Bitter is Better. It consists of one part brandy, half part oloroso Don Nuño de Lustau, half and a half parts Campari, 3 dash de Angostura and one part cordial homemade hibiscus. "They stir it and serve it without ice or decoration." "This cocktail is a very good example that with the DNA of a classic you can play in many ways. In this version the team has changed the traditional gin for brandy from Jerez, the vermouth rosso for oloroso, and they have rounded it off with the citrus and floral notes of hibiscus. And yet, it continues to be recognized as a twist of the Negroni. The aperitif character of this cocktail has been maintained: it is dry and intense like the classic".

1862 Dry Bar. Calle del Pez, 27. Madrid. Tel. 609 531 151. Map.

The Kingston Negroni of Momus Bar (Madrid)

"Momus's seems to me a masterpiece!" exclaims Borja Insa. "They call it Kingston Negroni and it's a delicious variant. They have managed to give it a small twist with criteria and good taste and that is still recognizable as a classic. With the point of lime pickled in apple cider vinegar they take it to another level." The one of the stimulating cocktail bar of Chueca, is also the favorite of the gastronomic journalist Abraham Rivera: "They make it with two different rums, an amaro signed by Simone Caporale for Santoni and complement it with a few drops of Italicus, Campari and Carpano. An extremely balanced drink, which fits like a ring to the finger a garnish of lime. It is absolute perfection: structure, technique, history and taste. A lot of flavor!" he says.

Momus Bar. Calle de San Bartolomé, 11, Madrid. Tel. 916 678 518. Map.

The Nordic Negroni of Savas (Madrid)

In the hands of Lithuanians Gintauts Arlauskas and Dovile Krauzaite, the Negroni becomes Nordic. Part of the blame lies with the Norwegian aquavit Linie—a distillate with potato-based alcohol or grain flavored with herbs and seeds—which is among the ingredients they use, and to which they add cranberry vodka that they macerate themselves for a week. In addition, vermouth, Campari and the usual orange slice. "Both aquavit and red fruit vodka are very typical in both Scandinavia and Central Europe. Hence the Nordic part of our cocktail. Being Lithuanians we like to use ingredients that are typical of us." It is powerful, balanced and very aromatic and together with its Smoky Sour, it is a brand of the house. Savas is located in Lavapiés and taking this Negroni in its cocktail bar invites you to spend the afternoon watching how they distribute happiness to the north, south, east and west of their small white bar.

The negroni goes Nordic in SavasSavas

Savas. Calle de la Sombrerería, 3, Madrid. Map.

The Evolution Negroni by Paradiso (Barcelona)

The Master of Spirits, sommelier and disseminator Elvira Aldaz puts it to us to take: "The last one I tried in Spain and that I liked a lot is the bottled Negroni that Paradiso has. It's called Evolution Negroni and it's actually a twist of a Boulevardier." It has Maker's Mark Bourbon, mango, vanilla, Campari, Mancino Rosso vermouth, chai tea and Disaronno and ensures that it is a tropical and spicy version. "Despite having more ingredients than the three of the classic recipe," continues Aldaz, "it perfectly respects the flavor profile of the cocktail, but makes it more complex, round and sweet. You want to drink another one next and that, unfortunately, is something less and less common in signature cocktail cards." He recommends that we serve it with a large ice cube so that it lasts without melting and waters the perfect balance of this cocktail.

Paradiso. Carrer de Rera Palau, 4, Barcelona. Map.

The Jerez Negroni of 14 de la Rosa (Barcelona)

"The best Negroni I've ever drunk in Spain is served at 14 de la Rosa," says Jordi Luque, a gastronomic communicator specializing in everything that can be drunk. "Now they make it with fino, instead of gin. But it was equally outstanding when they did it with a beet twist in its Rosita version, something dangerous in different hands, but that works in those of Dean Shury and his team. " The recipe for Jerez Negroni is given to us by Shury himself, one of the 10 best bartenders in Spain according to the World Class Competition: 30 ml of fine Lustau, 30 ml of Martini Bitter, 25 ml of his own mixture of vermouths and "we substitute 5 ml of vermouth for a fruity cream of Solera Lustau from the East Indies". They serve it with a large block of ice, a slice of orange and an orange blossom spray. "Sherry adds beautiful salinity and nutty notes. Sherry cream adds fruits, raisins and figs to the drink. In addition, replacing the gin with sherry reduces the alcohol level and makes this Negroni more suitable as an aperitif," explains the bartender. With three stars, the highest distinction of Top Cocktail Bars, this cocktail bar in the Barcelona neighborhood of Gràcia, proposes a journey into the future of the cocktail from a space that calls the old bar.

14 of the Rose. Calle Martínez de la Rosa, 14, Barcelona. Map.

The classic of the restaurant Gente Rara (Zaragoza)

In the cocktail bar of Borja Insa, among the best in Spain according to Top Cocktail Bars, they embroider the Negroni, but he takes us to another space in Zaragoza that is giving a lot to talk about: the restaurant Gente Rara. Cristian Palacio and Sofía Sanz, who won their first Michelin star in 2022, offer cocktails signed by barmaid Jessica Rodrigo and it is the one that has most suited Insa in the Aragonese capital: "Jessica shows an enviable mastery. The crockery, temperature and alcohol level were perfect before starting with the tasting menu. When I order a Negroni I look for the perfect balance, not only in its taste, but also in my body's reaction to drinking it. It is usually a prelude to something else. An appetizer, by definition, is the prelude to something bigger, so you have to make room for what comes next." He prepares it with gin, vermouth and bitter, all from Proffesore Monsieur (Italy), on an ice cube and finishes it by flavoring it with orange peel. "I like the classic recipe: it doesn't take anything else and I want to respect it," the barmaid tells us from Zaragoza.

The classic negroni of Gente Raragravitar

Restaurant Gente Rara. Calle de Santiago Lapuente, 10, Zaragoza. Tel. 623 002 084. Map.

The trumpet of death of Cul de Sac (Valladolid)

"I am obviously a great defender of the classics and especially of the classic formulas, which does not usually make me very funny when they make versions of a cocktail and it gets out of hand, but I have also drunk some cocktails 'Negroni type' of first level", acknowledges Monti before taking us to the Negroni trumpet of the death of Cul de Sac, in Valladolid, a cocktail bar whose creative director is Juan Valls, who for the author of Mueble Bar, "is one of the great creative minds of mixtures in Spain". In Cul de Sac they have given a return to the Negroni with infusion of trumpet and orange blossom. It has earthy touches, of course, almost of wet earth and goes perfectly with a plate of food with a powerful background." Valls is also behind The Lost Child, more creative, where Monti recommends Pepperoni: "a Negroni in which he plays with different bitter liqueurs and a cordial of white pepper from Penja and some cocoa".

Cul de Sac. Calle Alegría, 4, Valladolid. Map.

The aged under the sea of Sala de Personal (Mallorca)

With the help of the gourmet Claudia González we crossed the Mediterranean and we planted ourselves in Mallorca, specifically, in the new gastronomic space that has just been launched by the cocktail bars Ginbo and Chapeau 1987, two national references. Sala de Personal, whose creative direction also falls on the young Borja Triñanes, is located on the ground floor of the first of them and here, you eat, but "with a reverse pairing: the cocktail marks the time of the meal", explains the author of the book What is cooking by elBullifoundation. "There I tried this Negroni, aged under the sea (inspired by Borja Insa), about 17 or 18 meters and at a temperature of 22 degrees. Its passage through the sea on the Catalan coast, in Roses, makes this drink, normally sharp, much rounder. Very expressive, but with fewer edges, and with roasted touches and nuts. To order a bottle!"

Negroni aged under the seaClaudia GC

Staff Room. Pg. de Mallorca, 14A, Palma. Tel. 971 722 175. Map.

The prepared marianito of La Mula de Moscow (Bilbao)

Bilbao has two cocktail bars on the Top Cocktail Bars list. The first is that of Manu Iturregi himself, Residence, although he likes to define his place as "whisky bar". The second is La Mula de Moscow, whose bar is commanded by Álvaro Fernández and Rafa Reyes, two young people who, under the name of Mind Shakers, began offering a cocktail service for events. Today his den is always overflowing. His Negroni is classic – Ginebra Master's, Campari and Cinzano 1757 vermouth – and has to compete, not only with the creations of the local team, but with a relative who has been starring in the Bilbao aperitif hour for years: the prepared marianito. The good thing is that they also embroider it. They start from the base of a Negroni and add tangerine juice: 2 cl of mandarin juice, 7 cl of Cinzano vermouth, 2 cl of Campari, 1 cl of Hendricks gin. It is cooled in a mixing glass and served over a couple of ice and an olive. As in the case of the Negroni, never more than two. Basque word.

The Moscow Mule. Alameda de Rekalde, 15, Bilbao. Tel. 946 077 190. Map.

The aged of Niebla (Salamanca)

In the capital of Salamanca is Niebla, a cocktail bar in which, according to Manu Iturregi, "they are experts in making incredible twists on the classics". He mentions his Posca Sbagliato and a Kingston Negroni Aged, "two versions as good as they are crazy! But the second one, I think it's magnificent." The bartender Sergio Bermejo is responsible for this bar in Salamanca and this Negroni that involves two different phases of preparation. In the first, as Bermejo himself explains, they cure the barrel by shipping it with Cream East India Lustau, banana liqueur and Jamaican rum "of which we add very little to avoid an evolution of the liquor". In addition, they line it in banana leaf, "which gives it a green note." In the second phase, they make a chocolate with carob, coconut flower sugar and a spiced pineapple molasses and with it they prepare a fat wash -technique to flavor distillates with fat- with Plantation Jamaica (rum) that they end up filtering. They mix several house vermouths, add Martini Bitter, amontillado, rum and cocoa bitter. They are aged for 60 days in the barrel. When it's ready, they serve it in an old-fashioned glass with a block of ice and a banana leaf. "It's a bit of a fuss, but it's done in a moment!" says the bartender – but obviously we're not convinced. "It's with 'heavier' flavours, with a very British Caribbean vibe," adds Manu Iturregi. "It is ideal for an afternoon aperitif. A good cigar and boarding! From Salamanca to Isla Tortuga".

Fog. Calle Bordadores, 14, Salamanca. Map.

Harder than it seems

The fact that the Negroni is composed of only three ingredients and in the same quantity, has also motivated many cocktail fans to prepare it, but as the cocktail expert Esther Medina-Cuesta comments, "as much as there are only three ingredients and that, a priori, it is an 'easy' cocktail, it is common that it is not executed correctly and that they end up being mediocre". It must be calibrated well: "The most potent gins need more robust vermouths; those more delicate, lighter vermouths and even play with the ratio of classic Italian Amaro. And everything at a sufficient dilution point so that there is harmony between the components and the drink does not water quickly, loses cohesion and with it, all its magic. " Good Negroni pays attention to detail.

Even so, he leaves room for the game, "as long as it is done with criteria, because the Negroni is first and foremost a concept." It is defended by the popularizer François Monti, author of books such as The Great Book of Vermouth. Jordi Luque agrees and affirms that there are great versions that are born "from having questioned the canons". Of course: "To raise it takes a lot of time. Eastern masters say that anyone learns to play Go in the blink of an eye but that few, very few, master it after decades of practice."

Do you know a place where they serve good negroni? Tell it in the comments and someone will take one to your health.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-06-09

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