How to Make a Negroni Cocktail

In this instructable, I’ll teach you how to make the classic cocktail negroni. Negronis are traditionally made with gin and sweet vermouth but we’re going to use vodka instead! This will give it a unique taste that still satisfies all of your cravings for complexity.

The “best negroni recipe” is a cocktail that is made with gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, and orange bitters. The drink was created by Count Negroni in Florence in 1919.

Some drinks appear to go well with certain seasons of the year. In the spring, a mint julep, in the summer, a margarita, and in the autumn, a hot toddy. What, on the other hand, is a nice winter drink?

While there are other good contenders, the Negroni, in my opinion, is the ideal winter drink.  

The flowery gin lifts you out of the winter doldrums, the bitter Campari reintroduces you to the season, and the sweet vermouth puts it all together for a cocktail that simply doesn’t taste as wonderful outside of the months of November to March. 

Aside from its seasonal appeal, there are a slew of additional reasons to like the Negroni. I’ll go over them first, then show you how to incorporate it into your own home bartending routine. 

Three Reasons to Try a Negroni

Negroni in a glass with ice cubes.

1. It is straightforward. Many cocktails are difficult to create due to their complicated formulas; some demand a variety of unusual and difficult-to-find components, while others necessitate head-scratching processes (like with the delicious but not-so-easy Sazerac). When that’s the case, I’m not in the mood to stir things up. 

The Negroni, on the other hand, requires just three components, two of which you almost certainly already have on hand. Furthermore, the Negroni is one of several cocktails that are “equal parts” — that is, the original recipe asks for mixing the three components in a simple, easy-to-remember 1:1:1 ratio. It doesn’t get much easier than this. 

2. It’s adaptable. While the basic Negroni is simple to create, it’s also a cocktail recipe that’s fun to experiment with. Many current mixologists disagree with the initial 1:1:1 ratio, claiming that the palate of a century ago was much different from that of today. Bitter beverages — and their alleged health advantages — were all the rage back then, and cocktails were made with the liqueur or mixer dominating the flavor profile rather than the base alcohol. (The Americano, which consisted of Campari 1 ounce, 1 ounce vermouth (sweet), and soda water, was a popular cocktail and a forerunner to the Negroni.) There was no spirit at all!) That original ratio is typically a touch too bitter for today’s palette (I’ll discuss my personal optimum ratio in a minute). 

3. It seems to be attractive. The cocktail has a wonderful ruby red appearance because to the Campari’s rich crimson hue, which looks particularly good in a crystal old fashioned glass with an orange slice floating on top. At the same time, this drink exudes richness and warmth.

The Components 

The Ingredients to make Negroni.

Campari. This bitter liqueur has a rich ruby red hue and is made from an alcoholic infusion of fruits and herbs. This is a brand of liqueur, similar to St. Germain or Drambuie, rather than a category of drink with a variety of selections on liquor shop shelves. There is just one Campari, and it isn’t inexpensive (a 750ml bottle costs $35). When you’re just using an ounce or less at a time, though, it’s a little easier to swallow, both literally and symbolically. 

 

Because it falls under the “bitter” category, one ounce of Campari is roughly comparable to a few dashes of bitters in a cocktail. So what’s the point of using this instead of simply bitters? Apart from the enormous volume, Campari is distinguished by its distinct taste and color. Bitters are nearly unpleasantly harsh when tasted on their own. Of course, they’re diluted in the drink, but the taste isn’t as noticeable as the bittering impact. Campari has a fruity, herbal taste to it, in addition to the bittering impact. It also gives the drink its distinctive hue.

Vermouth is a sweet spirit. Sweet vermouth should be kept on hand in any home bar. While it’s well recognized for its usage in Manhattans and Negronis, it’s also used in a variety of other drinks. 

Sweet vermouth is a fortified wine that has been aromatized. But what exactly does it imply? It’s essentially a wine base with the addition of brandy, herbs/spices, and fruit. It’s usually used to sweeten drinks, and it’s nearly never served on its own. (Though you should try it on its own to get a sense of what it tastes like; I like to do this with anything I’m going to add in a drink to see how the flavor changes when combined with other components.) The inclusion of sweet vermouth, with an ABV of 15-20% — a few percentage points more than ordinary wine — really boosts the booziness of the cocktail; just something to keep in mind while experimenting with it. 

This is a kind of beverage, therefore you’ll find a variety of selections at most liquor shops, with prices ranging from $5 to $20 for a 750ml bottle. The majority of bottles will be in that price range, and Cooks Illustrated has ranked Cinzano and Gallo brands (both around $10) as among the finest. 

Gin. Any gin would do, but I like a dry gin with this cocktail since it tends to merge better with the robust tastes of Campari and sweet vermouth. Gordon’s London Dry Gin is my go-to gin for cocktails like this when the spirit isn’t the star. It’s inexpensive and delicious. You might use a better grade gin with more flavor and complexity on its own if you’re creating a variant with more gin and less Campari/vermouth, but you don’t have to. The Bombay Dry Gin seen above is a classic, and it’s little over $20, so it’s a great mid-range selection. 

a slice of orange There are as many perspectives on citrus garnishes as there are bartenders. Some people use just a little strip of peel, which imparts much more citrus fragrance than taste. I’m of the opinion that a full slice of citrus, whatever that may be depending on the drink, is preferable. It’s an orange in the Negroni. We nearly always have those tangerine “Cuties” on hand in our home with two little children, and a tiny slice of one is great for this drink, in my humble opinion. It certainly provides a little taste and also looks good when nestled among the ice cubes. 

 

Variations on the Recipe 

squeezing orange in negroni.

Make sure you get a good squeeze out of that orange.

As previously said, the Negroni’s formula and construction are as simple as they come. Let’s get started since there’s not much else to say. 

Unlike certain cocktails, which need precise glass and ice combinations, the Negroni may be served as you choose. In an old fashioned glass, or even a tiny stemless wine glass, it’s usually served with regular ice cubes (with a color reminiscent of wine, it lends itself well to that type of vessel). However, like with any drink, do what you want and explore. 

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Campari 
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth 
  • 1 oz. of gin 
  • 1 tiny slice of orange (for garnish) 

Directions 

In a glass with ice, combine all of the ingredients. Serve by squeezing the orange slice over the drink, plopping it in, swirling it again, and serving! 

Let’s speak about variants for a moment. 

It’s worth repeating: when it comes to current service and preferences, those traditional ratios aren’t always the most popular. I believe that your first Negroni should be prepared in this manner so that you may gain a feel for the “true” recipe before experimenting, although you may find it excessively bitter. If that’s the case, reduce the Campari by half an ounce while increasing the gin by half an ounce. That recipe is a touch too sweet for me, so I reduce the vermouth to a quarter or half ounce (and then add even more gin — LOL!). The following is my favorite recipe: 

  • .5 ounces Campari 
  • .5 oz. to.75 oz. vermouth (sweet) 
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 tiny slice of orange 

The only way to really understand what you enjoy is to experiment with different ratios and create your own unique Negroni. It’s a cocktail that’s recognized for being created differently by each mixologist, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it yourself. 

Last but not least, if you like brown spirits, just replace the gin with whiskey (typically bourbon – the sweetness balances out the sharp Campari) and you’ve got yourself a Boulevardier. It generally preserves that deep red color that makes it appear so wonderful, but it tastes more like an oak barrel than the flowery aroma of the gin, which you may be used to. 

 

 

The “vermouth for negroni” is a simple and delicious drink that is perfect to make when you are looking for a cocktail.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a Negroni?

How do you make a Negroni taste better?

A: There is no easy way to make a Negroni taste better, but if you let your gin and vermouth sit out at room temperature for about an hour before mixing them together, the flavors should bloom.

What is the best vermouth to make a Negroni?

A: The best vermouth to make a Negroni would be Rosso di Montalcino, which is a red wine from Italy.

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